Stuart Appleby returned to Greenbrier sounding like a proud father who'd dropped in to visit on his sons. It has been a year since becoming just the second man ever to shoot 59 on a PGA TOUR Sunday, as well as the first 59 on a par-70 course. His 59 was the fifth overall.
By the sound of it, it won't happen again for awhile. Certainly not at the The Old White TPC, where Appleby reached 22 under in beating Jeff Overton by a shot in 2010.
For starters, the course is 200 yards longer. That doesn't sound like a lot, but the course now stretches to 7,210 yards with the aid of just two par-5s. That alone, Appleby said, it good for adding a few shots to the overall score. He also thinks it swings the advantage back to the longer hitters like Gary Woodland and J.B. Holmes, who are both in the field this week.
"This course is absolutely built for them right now," Appleby said. "The course is very long today. It's got to be, I think, between I think three and four shots harder than what it was for us Saturday and Sunday last year compared to today. You know, anyone shooting in the mid-teens I think would be a very good score."
While the course is different, Appleby is very much in the same position he was a year ago, when he entered this event in the midst of a four-year PGA TOUR slump. He entered the event with just two top-10s, then proceeded to shoot 65-59 on the weekend for his ninth PGA TOUR win (and first since 2006). In 2011, the results are similar: Just one top-10.
"You know, at this time last year, I was also very frustrated," Appleby said. "So, [you] just got to understand that the game works in weird ways."
One thing's for sure: He will have a big crowd following him the first two days. He's slated to play with a couple of guys named Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson.
"One [is] a legend of the game and one still becoming a legend of the game," Appleby said. "And me, sort of stuck [as] the sandwich in the middle."