VINTAGE STUART APPLEBY AS THE AUSSIE GOLFER FIRES IN OPENING FINALS ROUND AT WEB.COM TOUR’S DAP CHAMPIONSHIP

Justin Falconer   |  

VICTORIAN Stuart Appleby has gotten his Web.com Tour Finals campaign off to a flying start in Beachwood, Ohio in the opening round of the DAP Championship.

The veteran signed for a 4-under 66 on Thursday at Canterbury Golf Club to be just three shots back of outright leader Bobby Watt.

Play was suspended on day one with much of the field yet to complete half of their opening rounds, as players vie for one of the 25 PGA Tour cards on offer after the four playoff events.

“I hit enough good shots that got me in birdie-chance range, inside 10 or 15 feet,” Appleby said after his round.

“It’s a good start. The course is tricky.

“It’s got some breeze blowing. So, I’m pretty happy with that

“I’m glad I got a good look at the course on Tuesday and Wednesday. 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 was moving backwards early in the day when he bogeyed his second hole, the par-3 11th, but responded immediately with a birdie to return to even-par.

Back-to-back gains on the 16th and 17th took him into the red numbers for the first time, before he traded strokes at the 2nd and 4th holes.

But a big finish from the nine-time PGA Tour winner thrust him up the leaderboard, birdies at the 5th, 7th and 9th holes taking him to 4-under for the round and a share of fifth position.

Up ahead are American Wyatt, his 63 highlighted by four straight birdies from his second hole onwards, while his countryman Bryson DeChambeau holds outright second after the day’s only 64.

Americans D.A. Points and Zack Sucher made just one bogey between them in their equal scores of 65 to be one clear of Appleby heading into Friday.

Fellow Australian Cameron Percy is just two strokes further back in a share of 18th position after he began his run back to the PGA Tour with a 2-under 68.

Percy found just 43 per cent of fairways off the tee but battled his way to a competitive score, joined at that mark by Englishman Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston.

Queensland’s Cameron Smith is also off to a good start, sitting any 1-under through 11 holes before play was called.

Smith birdied the par-4 2nd moments before the players were dragged from the course to hit the clubhouse with some confidence.

In a share of 63rd is fellow 2016 PGA Tour player Rhein Gibson, the New South Welshman opening his campaign with a 1-over 71 which can quickly be accounted for with a fast start on Friday.

Also at that mark are the Web.com Tour’s Brett Dewitt and journeyman Rod Pampling, that pair having only played a combined 13 holes on an interrupted first day.

The big disappointment in Ohio was reigning Australian Open champion Matt Jones, his 3-over 73 leaving him languishing in a share of 110th.

Two pairs of back-to-back bogeys kept Jones on the back foot, the lowlight being a closing bogey on the par-4 18th.

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