Category archive: Stuart Appleby

Stuart Appleby took to Twitter after his round Friday at the Sony Open to vent his frustrations on how the PGA Tour and its rules officials set the hole locations each day.

If he had missed the cut, the complain could have easily been brushed off as a bitter pro upset at getting the weekend off. But Appleby reached the weekend at 3-under through 36 holes. As is always the case on Twitter, there were some who questioned why he was complaining, so to clarify, he later tweeted this:

Why isn't it questioned? With all the technology used to measure everything on tour to the inch, during a tournament, the hole is placed by men who have different heights and strides. A 5-foot-9 official certainly has a different length stride than one who is 6-foot-4.

That might not seem like much, but when holes (as is now common) are put three or four "steps" from an edge of a green where water is in play, it could easily become a factor. That's an even bigger deal when pacing off a green from front to back.

Appleby raised an interesting, easily fixable, point. Caddies routinely walk their own yardage during practice rounds and make notes in their books while using laser ranger finders (only during practice rounds) for precision. Rules officials, using something as simple as a precisely marked string, could standardize a practice that in today's world is more than a little behind the times.

Stuart ApplebyChris Condon/PGA TOURStuart Appleby just might reach the Tour Championship for the first time since 2008.

Strong play at the right time can help in the playoffs, no matter what the sport. Such was the case for Stuart Appleby on Sunday at the Barclays.

With a back-nine 31, the nine-time PGA Tour winner posted a final-round 65 to tie for second, his best finish since he won the Greenbrier Classic in 2010 with a 59 over his final 18 holes.

His finish at Ridgewood Country Club earned him 1,083 FedEx Cup points, making him the big mover of the day. Appleby started the playoffs at 98th (only the top 100 moved on to this week's Deutsche Bank Championship) so a missed cut outside New York City could have ended his 2013-14 season. Instead, he jumped to 19th place.

Appleby hasn't gotten past the second leg of the playoffs since 2010 and hasn't played at East Lake -- host site of the Tour Championship -- since 2008.

Other big movers Sunday included Barclays winner Hunter Mahan (62nd to first) and Cameron Tringale, who rose 51 spots to 10th in the FedEx Cup standings with a T-2 finish on his 27th birthday.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the biggest drops came from Brian Stuard (now 64th after he failed to make the secondary cut), Scott Brown (70th, after an MC this week) and Jason Dufner (74th.) All three dropped 17 places, although Dufner didn't play at the Barclays due to a neck injury that also forced him to withdraw from the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

That makes Brown the proverbial "Bubble Boy" for next week at TPC Boston, with the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings advancing to the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills in Colorado.

Opening win doesn't foreshadow 2010 success

December, 30, 2009

As PGA Tour administrators and the golf industry as a whole count down the seconds until their biggest draw is back on the course, it might be helpful for everyone to take a step back, look at the numbers and breathe a bit.

Their sport is still in a good place.

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Daniel Chopra
Stan Badz/PGA TourAfter winning the season-opening tournament in 2008, Daniel Chopra didn't have another top-10 finish the rest of the year.

Take some numbers into consideration regarding the growth of the earning power of players on the PGA Tour. It's no secret that the past decade was a prosperous one for the Tour, even if those facts have become obscured in the short term by visions of smashed windshields and newsmen referring to

In 1999, 36 players earned $1 million while playing on the PGA Tour. Last year, 91 did. Back in '99, No. 125 on the Tour's money list was the immortal Charles Raulerson, who made a cool $326,893. Last year Jimmy Walker finished 125th and made more than double that ($662,683).

Entering 2009, 43 first-year players had made $1 million in their rookie seasons on the PGA Tour. Entering this decade, that had happened only twice -- both times in 1999.

Twelve players in the history of the PGA Tour have earned $25 million in career winnings. Every one of those 12 players won a PGA Tour event this decade.

The cumulative total of purses on the
PGA Tour in 1999 was $134,950,000, at the time an all-time high, and the first time that number had passed $100 million. In 2009, that number was more than doubled: $277.3 million.

So while the absence of Mr. Woods on the course is a loss to everyone who loves this sport, he has helped put it in an enviable place financially in the past decade.

What will the first tournament of this decade -- aka the SBS Championship -- tell us about what's to come on the course in 2010? Recently, success at the first event of the year hasn't translated to great success for the rest of the PGA Tour calendar (see: Chopra, Daniel in 2008).

Trivia question

Who was the most recent player to win each of the first two official PGA Tour events of a calendar year? The answer is below.

Since 2002, half of the eight winners have gone on to win another tour event that year. The winners have finished in the top 10 in just over 20 percent of their events for the rest of the year after kicking off their season in the best possible way.

Success in majors for the winners has been far more fleeting. Geoff Ogilvy won the Accenture Match Play in March and seemed like a prime candidate to win his second major in 2009. It was not to be. His finishes at the four majors: T-15, T-47, missed cut and T-43. In fact, no winner of the first event on the calendar has gone on to finish in the top 10 of any major since Ernie Els finished tied for fifth at the 2003 PGA.

No one has won the first event of the year and gone on to win a major that same year since Tiger Woods in 2000, when he beat Els in a playoff at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. Woods then went on to have a year you might not recall -- three majors, nine wins and 17 top-10s in 20 starts.

Last year at Kapalua, the only thing Ogilvy seemed to fail at was making things interesting. The Aussie blew away runners-up Anthony Kim and Davis Love III by six shots. Ogilvy was the only player in the field to have four sub-70 rounds. He hit 25 of 30 fairways over the weekend and missed just one green on the back nine on both Saturday and Sunday. His putting won the event, though -- Ogilvy ranked first in the field in putts per GIR (1.871).

Six of the past eight winners at the Plantation Course in Kapalua have finished either first or second in the field in putting average. The winners' putting average has also gone down in each of the past four years. A look at the winners since 2002 and what they did on the greens:

Winners at Mercedes-Benz Championship since 2002

Player Putting avg. Field rank
Geoff Ogilvy, 2009 1.645 1st
Daniel Chopra, 2008 1.694 1st
Vijay Singh, 2007 1.764 2nd
Stuart Appleby, 2006 1.808 6th
Stuart Appleby, 2005 1.694 4th
Stuart Appleby, 2004 1.618 1st
Ernie Els, 2003 1.585 1st
Sergio Garcia, 2002 1.596 2nd

Numbers getting lower at Kapalua has been a trend across the board in recent years. The total scoring average for the event has gone down each year since 2006. That year the number was 74.893; only the U.S. Championship had a higher total scoring average among PGA Tour events. Since then: 72.895, 70.935 and 70.515. The number of players under par follows suit: Six broke even in '06. Last year, only two players in the field did NOT shoot better than par.

Kapalua is a field consisting only of winners from the previous year, but what about winners of multiple events in the previous year? Six players in the field this year fit that category: Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Kenny Perry, Y.E. Yang, Brian Gay and defending champ Ogilvy. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson also won multiple times last year, but neither is in the field this week.

In the past three years, 11 players who won more than once on tour in the previous year played the event. None went on to win, and only one finished in the top five (Kim, in 2009). Ten of those 11 players finished out of the top 10, which is lower on the totem pole than normal considering the size of the field.

Trivia Answer

In 2003, Ernie Els won the Mercedes Championships and a week later captured the Sony Open.

The most recent winner of the event to have won multiple times the previous year? The Big Easy, who won twice in 2002, then won at Kapalua in '03.

And you thought I was going to say Tiger.

Justin Ray has been a studio researcher for ESPN since June 2008, and is the lead researcher for "The Scott Van Pelt Show." He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where he studied convergence media. Send comments and suggestions to