Date: March 08, 2007
Author: Ben Wise

Appleby leads charge

Ben Wise, Sportal Nine players will be looking to become the second Australian to win on the PGA Tour this season in this week&aposs PODS Championship, headed by world No.23 Stuart Appleby. The Victorian is joined in the field by compatriots Peter Lonard, John Senden, Gavin Coles, Mark Hensby, Stephen Leaney, Mathew Goggin, Nathan Green and Steve Elkington. Appleby has made a slow start to this season&aposs PGA Tour. After finishing eighth on the money-list last year – one of three Australians in the top-10 along with Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy – he is currently 90th in the earnings. And his task of winning his first event this season – he won twice last year (Mercedes Open and Shell Houston Open) – will be made more difficult with world No.9 Vijay Singh – the 2004 winner – in the PODS field. Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Charles Howell III, who leads the 2007 money-list with US$2.14 million, are also in the field for the tournament at Palm Harbour, Florida. Other than Aaron Baddeley&aposs triumph on the PGA Tour in February, the Australian contingent tackling the world&aposs most lucrative tour is having more difficulty early in this season compared with last year. Baddeley (55th to fifth) and Robert Allenby (56th to 15th) have improved on their standings, but notable Australians to have dipped include Ogilvy (fifth to eighth), Scott (third to 20th), Appleby (eighth to 90th), Rod Pampling (17th to 82nd), Nathan Green (41st to 114th) and John Senden (45th to 81st). However, Andrew Buckle has made a great start in his first full season on the gruelling tour, a share of fourth place at the Buick Invitational earlier in the year helping him reach 47th on the money-list. Nick O&aposHern is also building on his victory in the Australian PGA in December, jumping to 65th in the standings after finishing 94th last season.