Stuart Appleby is mired in a 2011 PGA Tour season that has brought little satisfaction.
There was a three-tournament stretch in which he finished between 10th and 15th, but the rest of his season has been a series of missed cuts — six straight at one point — and dismal finishes. Not to mention a disqualification.
“I don’t want to bore you with details, but I just haven’t really had a lot of confidence in where the ball has been going,” said Appleby, who returns to the site of his last win in 2010 and a final-round 59, The Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
While Appleby is lacking confidence in his game, he returns to a venue where the confidence he gained a year ago may just help him turn things around this week.
“I think confidence is an advantage to have,” said Appleby, 40, a nine-time PGA Tour winner. “I think if I can get my swing a bit more on track and a bit more confident with hitting a couple of shots the way I feel like the ball should go and mix that with the vibe I have here … “
Appleby does have a history of finding his niche at particular tournaments. He won three straight Mercedes Championships (2004-06) along with the 1999 and 2006 Shell Houston Open.
“I’m looking to get that sort of relationship going here,” he said. “Obviously a lot bigger field than what we have at the invitation-only Mercedes Championship. There’s no doubt places do have vibes. Players talk about, certainly Tom [Watson] can talk about places he just felt comfortable at. British Opens are a great example of that for him. I would love for this place to be the same way for me.”
Whether Appleby has another 59 in him is a different story. His feat was only the second final-round 59 and fifth overall. To do it again, Appleby will have to do so on a course that is playing 200 yards longer than a year ago and is playing “three and four shots harder.”
“I don’t see 59 there,” he said. “Anyone shooting lower than a 65 has had a very good round of golf.”
Now if Appleby can just string four good rounds together.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.