Victorian Stuart Appleby is set to use his special exemption to retain his US PGA Tour card next year.
Appleby failed to make an impression in the Tour’s final event and finished well outside the list of leading 125 players on the money list who automatically tee up in 2013.
He finished in 162nd spot while fellow Victorian Jarrod Lyle, who has battled illness for much of the season, was 160th.
However Appleby, who will play in this week’s Australian Masters in Melbourne, is a nine-time tour winner and can call on a one-time exemption for lifetime earnings to return to the tour.
It has been bitter reality for the former Australian Open champion since he made headlines when he shot a final-round 59 to win the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.
Appleby blamed his poor performance on a back injury, but is philosophical about his position.
“The game owes you nothing,” Appleby said. “I had all year to achieve my goals. I’m not worried in the least.”
And he has no qualms about his plans to exercise his one-time top-50 career money-list exemption for 2013.
Appleby, who ranks 19th in career Tour earnings ($26,741,811), used his one-time exemption for being inside the top 25 in career earnings in 2010.
“It’s loaded and in the barrel,” he said. “I’m ready to fire it off,” he said.
Meanwhile, joining the Australian in the Masters will be colourful and talented Englishman Ian Poulter, back to defend his title at Kingston Heath.
The charismatic world No. 15, who has overtaken Australia’s Adam Scott as tournament favourite, was already a big drawcard but has become one of golf’s hottest names in recent months.
IMG Australia’s director of golf, David Rollo, was thrilled to see Poulter spearhead Europe’s remarkable comeback victory to retain the coveted Ryder Cup in September.
”It was probably some of the most compelling golf that I’ve ever seen,” Rollo said.
”He was absolutely the architect of their fightback when he birdied the last five holes in their four-ball match [partnering Rory McIlroy] on the Saturday afternoon to get them within four points.”
The renowned match-play performer went on to win his singles match against American Webb Simpson as the Europeans overhauled that four-point deficit on the final day, cementing his hero status.
Poulter was still without an individual title for the season until last week when he stormed home in the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China with a final-round seven-under-par 65 after trailing by four shots, ensuring he arrived in Melbourne on a high.
By: Robert Grant