When Stuart Appleby knocked in the putt for 59 on the 18th hole in the final round of the Greenbrier Classic last year, one of the first things that came to mind was that the Australian would return to Kapalua and a course he had mastered for three consecutive years.
After 54-holes, Appleby is now thinking about next week at the Sony Open because his chances at Kapalua are over after a even-par 73 on Saturday.
When Appleby opened with a 3-under 69, it seemed that the old magic was back for the man that treated the Plantation Course as his personal playground from 2004-2006, when he won three consecutive titles. The 2011 edition has been a different story with scores of 75-73 at the par-73 layout. The 148 total is his second-worst 36 holes of his career on Maui.
Only one other time has Appleby shot consecutive rounds of par or worse, that occurring in the first two rounds of 2000 when he shot 73-76 on the way to finishing 15th.
With his worst finish in Maui a 16th in 1999 (Appleby finished 30th in 1998 at LaCosta), the Australian is looking at a new Maui low this year. He sits 29th with one round to go.
The reason for Appleby’s uncharacteristic play this week can be traced to his ball striking and not his putting, which could have gone south quickly when he had to play a new putter in Thursday’s first round.
Appleby’s three titles at Kapalua were due to solid putting – he never ranked outside of the top 2 – and quality ball striking,
In 2011, Appleby is 31st in fairways hit, 30th in greens in regulation and 10th in putting. With a scoring average of 70.24 in his first 24 rounds at the Plantation course, Appleby is on a 72.33 clip in his last three rounds.
With one round to go, the Australian is 16 shots out of the lead and will be looking for an early flight to Honolulu on Sunday.