Scott's Masters win was still being talked about Tuesday at Harbour Town. (How/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Australian Stuart Appleby still remembers the first time he met Adam Scott.
Scott, 15 years old at the time, was playing in a junior event run by Greg Norman. Another Australian, Aaron Baddeley, was 3 under and finished second to Scott -- 15 strokes behind him.
“I had no idea who (Scott) was,” recalled Appleby as he stood on the range at Harbour Town Golf Links for this week’s RBC Heritage. “I’m like, ‘What the (expeletive) is going on? So what’s this kid’s name?’ Ten years later he was a world-class player.”
And the first Masters champion from Down Under.
Eight times Australians had finished second at Augusta National, three times by Norman. Now the sporting nation with a population of just 22 million, had its first Green Jacket.
“In 1996, I think all of Australia went into mourning when (Norman) didn’t win,” Baddeley said. “because everyone thought he was going to win.”
Appleby called it the biggest injection of golf excitement in Australia since the 1990s, when Norman was No. 1 in the world for six straight years.
“It’s been very quiet since; sounds of crickets compared to Greg brought to the game for a while,” Appleby said. “All of us could say we had our initial roots of love for the game through Greg.”
Now Appleby hopes Scott will have the same impact.
So far, he’s off to a good start.
Just how big was Scott's win to Australia? The Prime Minister’s national address was interrupted on Monday with the news that Scott had won the Masters.
“With what Adam did, I reckon we could get that,” Appleby continued. “He’s got a Hall-of-Fame career in front of him, he’s a world-class player, he’s a gentleman, a great guy and he’s handsome damn it.
“I would love to see if we could measure golf’s participation; if there’s a bit of kick, a bit of interest, a bit of ‘Mum, I want to go to the range.’”
Appleby added that Australia has “struggled to make golf work” economically in recent years and noted that prize money in Australian events has dropped, too.
“This is just what we needed,” he said. “I’d hate to put undue pressure on Adam, but I hope he can represent golf in Australia for many years to come.”
Whatever happens, Appleby is just happy for his fellow Aussie.
“I’m hugely proud it was his first and Australia’s first,” Appleby said. “I woke up the next morning and it was first thing I was thinking about. Good on him, that’s all we can say.”
Phil Mickelson nearly became the sixth player in PGA TOUR history to record a 59 in competition Thursday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before his putt horseshoed around the hole and out on his final hole of the day, the par-4 ninth. Mickelson's 60 matches his career low, which he shot in this tournament in 2005.
Here's a look who has shot 59, complete with details:
||TPC Old White
|2010 Greenbrier Classic
||One eagle, nine birdies. Made 11-foot birdie putt on the 18th to win by one.|
||TPC Deere Run
|2010 John Deere Classic
||Twelve birdies. Made 7-foot putt birdie putt on the 18th hole.
||PGA West Palmer Course (Par 72)
||1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic||Final
||One eagle, 11 birdies. Made 6-foot eagle on 18th hole. Won by a stroke.|
|1991 Las Vegas Invitational
||13 birdies. Began on back nine, birdied last three, included 3-footer on last.|
|1977 Memphis Classic
||One eagle, 11 birdies. Began on back nine, made 8-foot birdie putt on ninth.|
Try this question on your golf partners: Who was the first player on the PGA TOUR to win with a Titleist Pro V1 ball?
We’ll answer that in a bit, while offering one hint – the win was in Las Vegas in 2000. At that year’s event, now the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Titleist changed the game with a high-performance solid construction ball. Since then, many companies have followed with their own editions, but nothing has matched the popularity of the Pro V1 among pros or amateurs.
Every few years Titleist comes out with new versions of the ball, and last week in Las Vegas – symmetry, anyone? – was time for the 2013 model.
“It’s like Christmas, what are we gonna get?” said Charley Hoffman of the unmarked white boxes that were waiting for Titleist ball loyalists at TPC Summerlin.
A total of 18 players put the new balls in play at Shriners Hospitals, with 14 playing the Pro V1x and four playing the Pro V1. Bill Lunde was the highest finisher with the new ball, taking fifth with a Pro V1x. Ryan Moore won the tournament with the present-day Pro V1 that’s available in stores.
“It’s the best-feeling ball I’ve played, ever,” said Hoffman, who missed the cut with a new Pro V1.
When the Pro V1 first hit the PGA TOUR in 2000 at Las Vegas, 47 players used it immediately (the Pro V1x arrived a couple years later). Billy Andrade won the tournament with the ball, becoming the answer to a golf equipment trivia question.
NEW FLATSTICKS: Fredrik Jacobson, surprisingly 132nd this year in strokes gained-putting (he was sixth last year), switched from an Odyssey Black Series I No. 1 to an Odyssey ProType ix No. 4 HT (high toe) at Las Vegas.
The ProType ix, with a black PVD finish and a slightly firmer White Hot insert, is only available for purchase in Japan but has proved popular over here. J.B. Holmes, Matthew Goggin and Gavin Coles all put the putter in play at Shriners Hospitals.
FRESH APPLES: Stuart Appleby got new wedges with tungsten slugs from the Callaway trailer in Las Vegas. He uses 52- and 58-degree X-Forged wedges, with personalization unique to him. Check out the photo.
WINNER’S BAG: Ryan Moore at the Shriners
Hospitals for Children Open:
Driver: TaylorMade RocketBallz (Fujikura Motore, 8.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: TaylorMade RocketBallz (15, 19 degrees)
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12 (20 degrees)
Irons: Ping S56 (4-PW)
Wedges: Cobra Trusty Rusty (55 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design (60 degrees)
Putter: Yes! Sandy 12
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
This week’s Wyndham Championship marks the final opportunity for players to move inside the top 125 in FedExCup points and reserve their spot in the FedExCup Playoffs, which begin next week at The Barclays.
Starting with the No. 126 player in points (Brendan Steele) going into this week, 44 of the next 55 players in points are playing at Sedgefield. Notables such as Retief Goosen (127th) and Stewart Cink (135th) are not in the field, meaning they will not make the Playoffs this year.
Here’s a look at some of the notables currently outside the top 125 who are playing this week. Which one do you think has the best chance of having a good week and moving inside the top 125?
||Y.E. Yang||129th||Made the Playoffs the previous three years, finishing 30th last year. But he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in 19 starts this year.|
||Gary Woodland||130th||A year ago, he was ninth in FedExCup points, which essentially clinched his spot for the TOUR Championship. But like Yang, he doesn’t have a top-10 finish (18 starts) this year, has battled injuries and has just two sub-par rounds in his last 21 rounds.|
||John Daly||137th||Has never made the Playoffs, but he’s making a late charge this year. He’s move up 26 spots in the last two weeks thanks to a T5 (at Reno-Tahoe) and a T18 (at PGA Championship).|
||Stuart Appleby||142nd||Has made the Playoffs in four of the first five years but has just one top-10 finish on TOUR since shooting that 59 in the final round to win The Greenbrier Classic in 2010.|
||Camilo Villegas||146th||Villegas has always come up big in the Playoffs – he’s had at least one top-10 finish in every year, and has 10 top-10s (in 18 starts) overall, including two wins in 2008. But his best finish this year has been a T18 in New Orleans.|
||Justin Leonard||157th||Last year was the first time Leonard had missed the Playoffs and he’s in danger again. But he comes off a T5 at Reno-Tahoe, his best finish of the year.|
Five players -- Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Charl Schwartzel -- currently share the clubhouse lead at 5-under 65 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, where they’re playing lift, clean and place after an overnight storm swept through the area and soaked the golf course.
Here’s what some of the leaders had to say about the opening round:
Vegas on the course conditions: “It is really soft. You can really throw anything at the pins and it's going to stop there.”
Vegas on how much of a difference there is between playing lift, clean and place and playing the ball down: “You take the doubt out of your mind. When you have your eye on the ball, you don't know which way the ball is going to go. So cleaning it takes it completely out of your mind. You can put a good spin on it, and usually you can get a result. It's huge.”
Appleby, who shot a 59 in the final round to win at The Greenbrier two years ago, on the similarities between that course and this one: “The greens, probably similar speed. The topography of this course is a lot hillier, a lot more demanding I think on the tee shots. The golf course now at Greenbrier is a lot more demanding than it was when I shot it.”
Schwartzel on being healthy again after missing a month between the U.S. and British Open due to a rib injury: “Before I had the injury, that second Masters before the British Open I thought that was the best I've hit the ball in my career. I hit it so good. Then the injury came and I was pretty upset about it because I thought I was really close to breaking through and winning again. I had to sit around for three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks without being able to hit a ball. I had sort of a rushed recuperation for the British Open, wasn't quite 100 percent. But at the British Open I didn't hit it as good as I did when I took off, but I kept practicing, and on Monday when I came here, things started falling into place.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Titleist is debuting some new firepower this week at the AT&T National, namely its 913 series of drivers.
The company hasn’t introduced a new driver in two years, but the 913 is the next step in the “900” family (with “9” being its designation for metalwoods and “13” for the model year), with a few subtle differences from the 910 series.
Titleist loyalists will notice the striping on the sole and new markings on the face, as well as a weight cartridge at the rear of the club. The cartridges can be swapped out to optimize launch conditions, and like the 910 models the new 913 has the SureFit Tour hosel to adjust lie and loft.
Like the 910, the 913 has a D2 and D3 model, with the D2 being slightly bigger.
Bobby Gates took the first swings with the club on Monday at the range at Congressional Country Club, with Titleist players Seung-Yul Noh, Jimmy Walker and Brendan Steele also getting licks in. Rory McIlroy has one in Ireland this week, where he’ll play in the European Tour’s Irish Open.
The clubs will go on sale to the public sometime in the fall, retailing for around $399.
MR. 59: After dalliances with several flatsticks, Stuart Appleby returned to the Odyssey White Hot XG 330 mallet that he shot 59 with at The Greenbrier Classic in 2010.
“I really had to assess what was going on in my game and where I had to improve,” he said. “I was chasing around, moving putters. Didn’t know when I was going to hit the hole. It just started sapping the energy.”
Sure enough, he finished T18 at the Travelers for his first top-20 finish of the season.
COLORFUL: More of Callaway’s udesign-inspired Razr Fit drivers are making the rounds on the PGA TOUR. At the Travelers, J.J. Killeen used a purple one in honor of his TCU roots, while Danny Lee used a blue driver that was actually built for Fredrik Jacobson, but the Swede declined to use it in play so Callaway reps gave it to Lee.
WINNER’S BAG: Marc Leishman at the Travelers
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (UST Mamiya AXIVCore, 7.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Titleist 910F (13.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Mizuno Fli-Hi (18 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP2 (3-4), MB (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (PW, 54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Mid-slant T10
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- It’s been a while since Stuart Appleby has been in contention -- so much so that Golf Channel’s Mike Ritz and Appleby had a funny little exchange about it.
“What have you found, because this has not been the most stellar year for Stuart Appleby,” Ritz said to Appleby following Appleby’s second-round 65 Friday.
“No, I almost forgot your name,” Appleby shot back. “I couldn't think who you were.”
Appleby has, however, had a forgettable year. The Aussie has just one finish in the top 25 and he’s missed more cuts -- eight -- than he’s made -- five.
Entering this week, Appleby missed two of his last three cuts and three of his last four.
“I really had to assess what was going on in my game and where I had to improve,” he said. “I was chasing around, moving putters. Didn't know when I was going to hit the hole. It just started sapping the energy.”
Appleby went back to the putter he shot 59 with in the final round of the 2010 Greenbrier Classic, which also happens to be the last time he won.
He’s also healthy after battling through a back injury early in the year and mentally in a better place, too.
It certainly showed with seven birdies on Friday for what was his best round of the year by three strokes.
“I'm thinking better. I'm getting better,” Appleby said. “I wasn't hitting it any good and I wasn't thinking any good and I was just really finding it very hard. My body and mind is a lot better, and if you get those two right, you play better golf.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
A new golf ball got into the winner’s circle when Phil Mickelson won for the 40th time in his career Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The Callaway HEX Black Tour is the company’s newest weapon in the battle for market share in the premium-ball category, long the domain of Titleist’s ProV1 line.
The ball has hexagon-shaped dimples, similar to previous Callaway balls, but with a new dual-core construction where the outer core has a higher compression and the inner core a much softer compression, allowing for lower spin off longer clubs and higher spin off scoring clubs like wedges and short irons.
A dual mantle and proprietary urethane cover complete the package, which will go on sale March 2.
"I had a big advantage this week, I felt, because when the winds started coming up, when the rain started coming up, I felt like I had an advantage by the way my ball was flying and being controlled through that wind,” Mickelson said after his win. “We've got a new ball this year, HEX Black (Tour), and it just flew so good and penetrated through the air so much better that in this thick, cold air I felt like I had a big advantage."
Mickelson also touted the company’s RAZR Fit driver, which was moved into sale a week earlier after the win.
”I don't know how the physics of this work, but usually when I hit ‑‑ I'm able to hit a high, long ball off the tee and I'm also able to hit a low, controlled cut shot off the tee to get to the fairway, usually it's one or the other. Usually a driver is not able to hit both. I don't know what they did with the physics of it, but it allows me to hit every shot I'm trying to hit off the tee.”
PUTTER ANGST: The long putter argument rages on, and among PGA TOUR players the spectrum of opinion keeps growing. There are players like Tiger Woods who are strictly against it and have even lobbied for a solution, and young stars like Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson who are users and huge supporters.
Then there’s Ernie Els, who uses a belly putter and is completely in favor of its disappearance.
“Although I've used it for, what, six months now, I feel the same as most of the traditionalists. I feel that no club should be anchored to your body,” Els said Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “I don't know how they're going to go around it, maybe use a putter as long as you want as long as it's not anchored to your body in any way, even up your arm. You see a lot of the guys use it in their armpits now.
“Nothing should be anchored to your body, and I still believe that. I was in such a state that I felt that I needed to change something, which I did. I went to the belly. It hasn't really helped me that much, but it has helped me. But I'm for it. Ban it. It's fine.”
OLD SCHOOL: Corey Pavin won the Champions Tour’s Allianz Championship last weekend, his first win in 35 starts on the 50-and-over circuit. As usual, he excelled with one of golf’s best short games, whether it was saving par from a ridiculously hard tree-root depression or making clutch putts.
For the latter, he uses a 28-year-old Bulls Eye putter (pictured). In an era of putters of all sizes, shapes and lengths, the Bulls Eye is as old school as it gets. And Pavin’s doesn’t have any fancy paintfills or initials, just his full name stamped on the back.
NEW SCHOOL: One antithesis of the Bulls Eye is Odyssey’s new Flip-Face putters, which have two faces containing different inserts (Odyssey’s Metal-X or White Ice). Depending on the kind of a feel a player is looking for on slower or faster greens, the face can be flipped with a special tool included with the club. Stuart Appleby put a No. 5 model (pictured) in play at AT&T.
CASH PLAY: Not every PGA TOUR player has a bag full of free clubs. Golf World Monday reported that Matt Bettencourt bought a TaylorMade RBZ driver at a golf store when it was released on Feb. 3, not waiting for the company to bring the drivers to TOUR pros at the AT&T.
WINNER’S BAG: Mickelson at the AT&T
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am:
Driver: Callaway RAZR Fit, 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Callaway Big Bertha Diablo
Irons: Callaway X-Forged 4-iron, X-Prototype 5-iron, RAZR X muscle-back 6-PW
Wedges: Callaway X-Series JAWS 52, 60, 64 degrees
Putter: Odyssey White Hot XG PT82 Blade
Ball: Callaway HEX Black Tour