Date: October 25, 2007
Author: Angus Morgan

Appleby eyes success at home

Coming off what he describes as only an average season on the US PGA Tour, Stuart Appleby is looking forward to finishing the year on a high at the Australian Masters. Speaking at Huntingdale on Thursday, Appleby said he&aposs more determined than ever to win his first MasterCard Masters which he believes works well in November under a revamped schedule having shifted from its traditional spot in February. The 36-year-old will compete in the Hong Kong Open before returning for the Masters which starts on November 22 and the MFS Australian Open to be played from December 13-16 at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney. “Once I&aposve got back from Hong Kong I want to be ready to go, in form and ready to go,” Appleby said. “Every time I&aposve seen the (Masters) winner come Sunday, I&aposve always felt myself, &aposI wish that was me&apos, I would like to be in that position.” When asked how he felt about his season on the US PGA Tour, Appleby shrugged. “Just average”, was his reply. Thirty-sixth place in the standings and 40th on the money list with in excess of $1.8m is not too shabby, but he was not quite able to match his 2006 season which included tournament victories in the Mercedes Championships and Houston Open. “It was probably a gear or two away from being like last year, probably one of my quietest years I&aposve had in recent times and quiet for Australians (generally) compared to the previous year,” he said. “I had some chances to potentially make it like last year but I just didn t capitalise.” “And I don&apost think where we were this year is reflective of our play as a quality of a nation.” Pressed to explain why, Appleby suggested it may have been a &apostide swing&apos without elaborating any further. He was more expansive on the perennial question of whether the Australasian Tour would benefit from the presence of more of the higher-profile stars of world golf. It was announced on Thursday that Danish star Thomas Bjorn would be competing in his first Australian Masters and that 2006 MFS Australian Open champion John Senden, two-time PGA Tour winner Rod Pampling and Mark Hensby would also be at Huntingdale. Hinting that Australia may still be suffering a cultural cringe, Appleby said he doesn&apost believe we necessarily need to go for the &aposbig cheese&apos. “Sometimes I think that Australia feels like we need a pat on the back – I can tell you how great Australia is, but I&aposm biased,” he said. “Sometimes I think we want an American or someone else to come out and go, &aposman, this is the greatest country, wow, it&aposs awesome, awesome&apos.” “Only having foreign players and good players is nice but you ultimately want them to play very, very well.” “I think there&aposs value in someone like a Jason Gore who is a big guy, great personality, nicest guy you&aposll ever meet, hits it a mile, beautiful swing and always got a smile on his face.” “To me, he&aposs value, that&aposs what you want.” Appleby said Australians should celebrate what we&aposve got and the days when the agenda was set by the likes of Greg Norman are long gone. “We don&apost have a &aposSharkey&apos – he was our Bo Derek for many years,” said Appleby. “The rest of us are a bit feral compared to Sharkey but we&aposve got more depth now and winners can come from anywhere.” “Greg Norman was a bit of a Pied Piper, he would play his tune and everyone would follow and you want to go where the best players are.”