Three-time defending champ Stuart Appleby, shown here during the third round, finished 10 back.
Appleby will get by fine without a win in Kapalua
KAPALUA, Maui » Stuart Appleby exited the 18th green without a trophy and a new Mercedes for the first time in four years, but he was a good sport about it.
The Mercedes-Benz Championship crowd gave him a rousing ovation that he responded to with a tip of his cap and a wave of his hand as he finished yesterday's round with solid 71 and a four-day total of 4-under 288. He lost to Vijay Singh, a man who finished second to him twice in three years, by 10 shots, but he still found a bit of humor in it as he left for Oahu and this week's Sony Open in Hawaii.
"I'm going to burst out and cry," Appleby said. "No. Am I sad? No, I'm not sad. I had a great run. I don't have that difficult dilemma to work out what car I have to order or what color I have to make, so life will be easier now."
Appleby played well enough yesterday to go to 5 under at the turn, but a bogey at the par-3 11th and a double at the par-4 14th offset birdies on the two closing par-5s on the back nine. It was this kind of up-and-down play that kept the Aussie from making any kind of run this weekend.
"No, this course didn't seem to let anyone get going -- it would barely let you chip ahead and get in the right direction," Appleby said. "Generally, I'm actually pretty happy with my game. I was just one notch shy of playing decent. Everything is there. Everything is ready to go."
Despite his three consecutive victories here, Appleby believes Singh has played the Plantation Course as well as anyone and said as much.
"Vijay, obviously, now has the best record, consistent record here in recent times," Appleby said.
As for exiting Maui without a win for the first time since 2003, Appleby kept a positive attitude about it.
"I'm not at all concerned," said Appleby, who failed to win the same event four consecutive times since Tiger Woods did it at Bay Hill. "You win, you're not fortunate you work hard to have your wins and you're happy to walk away. But not at all, I'm kind of excited about it in a way because it's a new challenge for the year.
"You feel pleased walking away to beat the field. That's it. You move on. It's no euphoria or anything like that. You move on. And that's what I'll do next week. I'm very much looking forward to the new year. Even though it didn't turn out to be a win the first of the year. Only one guy can do that and my time is up for this year."
Wilson finishes strong: Kaneohe native Dean Wilson would like to have two more rounds, but life doesn't work that way between the ropes.
After playing the Plantation Course in 13 over the first two days, Wilson went 2 under over the weekend, including a 1-under 72 yesterday to finish at 10-over 302 for the week. His 29th-place finish earned him $55,000 and 177 FedExCup points.
"Yeah, the last two rounds give me some confidence going into next week," Wilson said. "Getting some birdies under my belt feels good. Probably getting the first few rounds of the year feels good. And we'll get going.
"Those first two rounds, well, yeah, that's kind of the way it goes. I feel good. Things are coming around. I was able to judge the wind a little better today. I still made a couple of mistakes out there, but a lot less than the first two days."
As for going from Maui to Oahu, Wilson believes that transition will be a little bit easier than you might think.
"Everything is going to be less severe," Wilson said. "The wind is going to be less severe. The fairways are going to be less severe. The greens are going to be much flatter and easier to read. I'm more familiar with the course. This brand of golf here is a little bit more unique."
The eagles landed: Chris Couch did something this week nobody else managed to do -- post two eagles in one round. And he didn't do it the conventional way.
After making eagle at the par-5 fifth, Couch turned right around only two holes later to eagle the par-4 seventh.
"The Philadelphia Eagles?" Couch said and then smiled after being asked about the two eagles on yesterday's front nine. "The two eagles I made on five and seven, right? I hit a 4-iron into five to about 6 feet. That was a good shot in there. The yardage was 217 to the pin. I caught one pretty good there.
"At seven I hit one of the worst drives of the week there. I drove it into the left rough. I got lucky to have a back pin there and I had a really easy shot there. It was a wedge and I hit it to the middle of the green and it trickled into the hole."
Despite going 4 under on those two holes, Couch finished 3 under for his round and 4-under 288 for the tournament. He tied for 13th and earned a nice paycheck of $120,000.
Inside the numbers: Defending Sony Open in Hawaii champion David Toms posted the low round of the week yesterday with a solid 6-under 67 that earned him a tie for eighth. Toms hit 14 of 15 fairways and 16 of 18 greens for the day en route to only the third bogey-free round of the tournament. The other two were turned in by Singh and Rod Pampling.
Toms managed his fourth top-10 finish here in seven tries. His best finish was second after he lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff in 2002.
The hardest hole of the day was the par-4 first. The 520-yard hole yielded a scoring average of 4.152. There were two birdies -- by Singh and U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, 24 pars and seven bogeys. The easiest hole was the 532-yard par-5 fifth with a scoring average of 4.303. There were two eagles (Couch and Aaron Baddeley), 20 birdies, 10 pars and one bogey by D.J. Trahan.