Stuart Appleby in the groove and near return to majors

A resurgent Stuart Appleby could be just two weeks away from ending a four-year absence from golf’s major championships after a vintage display at the US PGA Tour’s opening play-off tournament.

A veteran of 55 major appearances –  52 of them consecutive after his debut at the 1997 US Masters – Appleby, 43, hasn’t played in one of the big four since 2011 at Augusta.

But his closing six-under-par 65 to finish tied for second behind Hunter Mahan in the Barclays Championship in New Jersey on Sunday has him tantalisingly close to a return.

If he can hold his new place in the top 30 of the season-long points list over the next two play-off events, he will earn a return to three majors next year.

Appleby rocketed from 98th on the points list to 19th, meaning a cut this week in Boston and another decent finish in Denver in a fortnight should be enough to get him into the season-ending 30-man Tour Championship for the first time since 2008.

Players who qualify for that  automatically get exemptions into the US Masters, US Open and British Open the next year.

“If there was a case for good timing it was certainly now,” Appleby said.

The nine-time US tour winner’s result was the best he’s had since victory in the Greenbrier Classic in 2010, when he shot a final round 59.