Appleby’s putter mystery solved in Kapalua

Stuart Appleby lines up a putt during day one of the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club on December 2, 2010 in Sydney, Australia.

Stuart Appleby lines up a putt during day one of the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club on December 2, 2010 in Sydney, Australia.

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Just a day after the beginning of the Stuart Appleby putter saga, the mystery was solved with the return of the missing flat stick.

Yes, Appleby was reunited early Friday with his beloved Odyssey White-Hot XG 330 mallet, which had been reported missing since just before the start of Thursday’s first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Since the mystery unfolded right before his starting time Thursday, Appleby never had much time to figure out where it had gone. Instead, he had to focus on adding a putter to his bag, which was done when an Odyssey Black Series Two-Ball was retrieved from one of the Kapalua golf shops.

Unfortunately for the good people and tireless staff of the Plantation Course here, speculation shifted to the possibility that the putter was taken from the storage room. But that was put to rest when Appleby discovered what really happened.

He left it on the putting green after Wednesday’s Pro-Am.

From there, the mystery unfolded thusly:

Rick Folio, who normally works in production support for CBS but was doing that for The Golf Channel this week, found the putter and asked around if anyone knew to whom it belonged. Finally, the putter was moved to The Golf Channel’s trailer without a second thought . . . at least until so much publicity was given to Appleby’s first-round effort with the replacement putter.

Folio early Friday asked if it was possible that the putter in The Golf Channel trailer was Appleby’s. Golf Channel reporter Frank Nobilo brought it out to Appleby, who confirmed it was his.

The story was related to Appleby, who merely shrugged.

“I guess that explains it,” Appleby said.

That mystery solved, another one unfolded because even though he had his putter in time – the same putter he used to shoot 59 and win last summer’s Greenbrier Classic – Appleby opted for the pinch-hitter.

“I thought it deserved (another chance),” Appleby said of his decision to keep the Black Series Two-Ball in his bag. He had made eight birdies and used just 28 putts in Thursday’s 69, but in Round 2 Appleby made only three birdies and took 32 putts.

“But don’t blame the putter,” said the three-time champion.

And which putter gets into the bag for Saturday’s third round? Appleby smiled. It will be a game-time decision.

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