Appleby strives to regain magic in career twilight

September 08, 2016
By Mike Peticca, Special to PGATOUR.COM


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Among Stuart Appleby’s 17 professional wins are nine on the PGA TOUR.

His chances of reaching double figures would be enhanced by again securing his PGA TOUR card. Appleby began that quest on Thursday at Canterbury Golf Club by carding a 4-under par 66 at the DAP Championship, the first of four Tour Finals events.

“I hit enough good shots that got me in birdie-chance range, inside 10 or 15 feet,” Appleby said. “It’s a good start. The course is tricky. It’s got some breeze blowing. So, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Appleby, 45, is battling to secure his status because he placed 143rd in the FedExCup standings, 18 spots out of the top 125 golfers who earned cards for the 2016-17 TOUR season.

His situation may be as much a testament to the depth of talent in golf’s upper echelon as it is his own struggles.

“It has definitely improved since my initial days 20 years ago,” the Australian native said. “Maybe it’s a good time that I’m getting close to 50 (to become eligible for PGA TOUR Champions) and will move on.”

Players must finish in the top 25 in the combined earnings at the four Finals tournaments to earn a PGA TOUR card for next season.

Appleby’s experience should serve him well during the journey. It did on Thursday at Canterbury, which is one of two courses — Oak Hill in Rochester, New York the other — which has hosted all five rotating men’s major championships (U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Senior Open, Senior PGA Championship).

“I’m glad I got a good look at the course on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Appleby explained. “There are quite a few tee shots that you have to sort of work out how much shape you need on them. So that was pretty vital, to get some research on the golf course.”

Appleby started his round on the back nine. His performance was keyed by playing the difficult 16th through 18th holes in 2-under, with birdies on the par-5, 617-yard 16th and the par-3, 229-yard 17th.

Appleby says he wants to improve two parts of his game.

“Probably some consistency in ball-striking,” he said. “I need to work on that. Mentally I need to get better, get a bit more, I guess, resilient.

“I think those two things. When you strike the ball on the middle of the club face as a golfer, you can start building something good in a round, but when you’re missing shots and your distance is not right, it’s very difficult.”