Stuart Appleby, left, held the second-round lead by one stroke over David Toms, right, and three other golfers after a blustery round yesterday at Kapalua.
Tour can’t handle Mercedes
The wind isn’t quite strong enough to knock Appleby off the pace for his third straight title
KAPALUA, Maui » Stuart Appleby doesn't care if the trades are knocking him over or if the greens are as slick as The Masters on a Sunday afternoon.
Give him four rounds at the Plantation Course and be prepared to write him a million-dollar check and toss him the keys to a new Mercedes to boot. Appleby is still at least 36 holes away from making a little history, but it's hard not to like his chances.
If he hoists the trophy tomorrow evening, he will become only the 16th golfer in history to win the same event three consecutive times, dating back to Tom Morris Jr., who first turned the trick at the British Open 136 years ago.
Despite bogeying the final hole, Appleby shot a 1-under 72 yesterday for a 3-under 143 after two rounds to take a one-shot lead over U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell, Jim Furyk, David Toms and Vijay Singh. Of that foursome tied for second, only Campbell doesn't have some history of his own at the retooled Plantation.
Furyk won the Mercedes in 2001, Toms lost to Sergio Garcia in a one-hole playoff in 2002 and Singh has five top-five finishes since the winners-only tournament moved here in 1999. And don't count out Campbell.
He would have shared the lead had he not bogeyed the final hole to finish with a 1-under 72. Campbell was one of only six golfers to land in the red yesterday as the trades howled all day, often gusting to 35 mph as it whipped the 28 golfers silly. Relative unknown Jason Bohn's 70 was the best round of the day and he needed to birdie four of the final five holes to make that claim.
The next-best round was a 1-under 72 managed by Appleby, Campbell, Furyk, Bart Bryant and Geoff Ogilvy. Appleby's 143 total is 12 shots off the pace Singh set last year and the highest 36-hole lead since Tiger Woods' 137 in 2000.
Vijay Singh is tied with three others, a stroke behind Stuart Appleby.
The fast greens are part of the reason for the ridiculous numbers, but the wind played a big part in the soaring scores as well. Carl Pettersson, who opened with a 2-under 71 on Thursday, came back with a 12-over 85 yesterday to equal the worst round since the tournament moved to Maui.
He was not alone. Joining him with rounds in the 80s were Heath Slocum (81), Fred Funk (82) and Jason Gore (80), who is tied for last with Brad Faxon with a two-day total of 14-over 160. And these guys are good.
"The weather was a deciding factor on how well you were going to play," Appleby said. "This is the strongest wind -- as strong as we've had by far -- certainly mixed with new, fresh greens and quick greens, it was pretty tough.
"I didn't do anything outstanding. I didn't really make many mistakes. I controlled the ball pretty well and putted pretty good. I also missed some good opportunities. Just a really tough day. I know how to play the golf course, but I don't think I have any sort of advantage or anything because it's not a tricky, complicated course."
Perhaps not, but the man who has won more money at this event than anyone else is certainly dialed in to the par-73 surroundings. Furyk, who owns a home off the 18th green, is right there as well. And if anyone can tell you about the Maui trades, it's him.
"Well, I don't think I've -- without a major storm blowing through -- I haven't seen the winds much stronger," Furyk said. "This isn't like totally out of the ordinary. The locals have to play in this stuff quite a bit. I know they don't feel bad for us.
"But the wind was tough. It really made it difficult to get the iron shots close. I thought it was very difficult putting. It was a difficult day out here. I've never seen scoring on this golf course so high."
Yesterday's scoring average of 75.5 is the highest in tournament history since moving here in 1999. The previous high was 75.033 in the first round of 2000. It also marked the highest single-round scoring average on tour since the final round of the 2005 Players Championship won by Funk, where the field averaged 76.512 played in similar conditions.
For the second straight day there were no eagles and no bogey-free rounds. It was the kind of day where surviving was more important than thriving.
"If you would have told me (Thursday) that 143 would be leading, I would have laughed at you," Furyk said. "I was doing an interview, I saw the highest score for a leader is minus 9 here previously. It's going to be six shots higher and that's quite a difference."
Conditions are expected to be similar over the weekend, which suits Campbell just fine. The New Zealander likes it when the wind is up in your face.
"Yeah, I'm born in this weather," Campbell said. "I grew up playing junior golf in Wellington, New Zealand, which is apparently the second-windiest place in the world. It was a lot of fun out there. I said to myself on the first tee, shoot even par, it will be a good score. Anything better than that is a bonus."