Thumpers find no problem going long
KAPALUA, Maui » The scores may be higher than normal at this week's Mercedes Championships thanks in part to the brutal trades, but that hasn't kept the big boys from carrying the big sticks.
Jason Gore is in last place at 22-over 241 entering today's final round. He hasn't had a lot to talk about. But he can lay claim to hitting the longest drive of the week with a hefty 427-yard bomb at the par-4 12th.
He is one of eight golfers to hit their drives 400 yards or longer this week, including front-runner Stuart Appleby, who knocked his drive 426 yards at the 12th hole on Thursday. He two-putted for birdie.
"I've been working on cutting it loose a little bit," Appleby said, a practice he began midway last season. He knows knocking it far isn't enough to win a golf tournament; Gore can testify to that.
"But if you can drive it long and control it, then you have a chance to succeed," the Australian said. "My goals this year are to putt better and work on my short game around the greens."
And let those 400-yard drives take care of themselves.
Inside the numbers: Playing partners Lucas Glover and Mark Calcavecchia managed the first two eagles of the tournament. Glover recorded the first with a hole-in-one at the par-3 eighth. Calcavecchia got his in a more conventional manner with a three at the par-5 18th.
Despite a bad shot at the eighth that led to a bogey four, Sergio Garcia is the only golfer under par on the short holes. Through nine par 3s, Garcia is a stellar 1 under; not bad considering those three holes have been among the most difficult for the week.
For the third consecutive day, there were no bogey-free rounds. First-day leader Olin Browne is the only man in the 60s with his 4-under 69 on Thursday. He followed those opening 18 holes with back-to-back 76s.
The most difficult hole yesterday was the par-3 eighth, and this despite Glover's ace. The average score was 3.286, with one eagle, three birdies, 14 pars, seven bogeys and three doubles.
The easiest hole was the par-5 18th with a scoring average of 4.571. There was one eagle, 12 birdies, 13 pars and two bogeys.
Campbell stays hot: Of the 11 first-time golfers at this week's Mercedes, Michael Campbell has the best 54-hole total at 4-under 215. He currently trails Appleby for the lead by two shots.
"Every single shot today was manufactured because of the wind," Campbell said. "It's one of those weeks where you hit a wedge about 30 feet away and it's a great shot. You've just got to be patient out there. Patience is the essence, I think, this week to succeed and lift that trophy tomorrow."
Other first-timers in the top 10 are Glover, who is fourth at 217, and Peter Lonard, Geoff Ogilvy and Wes Short Jr., who are tied for ninth at 221.
Appleby already a winner: Appleby was named this week's AstraZeneca Charity Challenge winner for finishing first after the third round. It is a seasonlong competition that will result in $3.5 million being designated to health-care charities.
For Appleby's efforts, AstraZeneca will donate $100,000 to The American College of Gastroenterology.