Golfing marathon man Stuart Appleby can finally plan a break back in Australia after playing the round of his life to shoot 59 and win on the US PGA Tour.
Golfers rarely play more than three or four weeks in a row.
Desperate to resurrect his slumping career, Appleby was playing for the 11th straight week when he produced his magical closing 11-under 59 to snatch the Greenbrier Classic by one stroke from overnight leader Jeff Overton on Sunday.
It was only the fifth 59 in US PGA Tour history as the Australian produced a putting master-class to gather nine birdies and an eagle on the historic Old White course at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Using the left hand low grip he switched to in recent months, the 39-year-old needed just 23 putts as he bettered his previous career-low round by three strokes to notch his ninth win on the US Tour.
“Everything was switched on. I felt pretty comfortable out there,” Appleby said.
“I liked all the reads. I liked the way the ball rolled.
This course is receptive. Guys were shooting really low. I was fortunate to do all mine in one round.”
Appleby’s win came more than four long years after his last victory at the 2006 Houston Open, and after he finished a distant 137th on the money list last year.
He had not broken 65 in a tour event since 2006, a span of some 358 rounds as he slipped to a lowly world No.159 ranking. “It’s really changed my season,” said Appleby.
“It’s given some real valid weight to the time you spend on the range frustrated and there’s been plenty of that. “I really want to be back to being the player that I was, I am, I feel like I’ve always been.”
The only prior 59s in US PGA history were all by Americans – Al Geiberger in 1977, Chip Beck in 1991, David Duval in 1999 and Paul Goydos just three weeks ago at the John Deere Classic.
Appleby said he was helped by playing alongside American D.A. Points when he flirted with a 59 on Saturday before settling for a 61.
“It wasn’t motivation, but certainly the best visualisation you can see when a guy is just draining putts. Absolutely,” said Appleby.
“I saw some glimpses of feeling more relaxed and the type of golf you need to make birdies.
“I don’t think you can be out of the zone (and shoot 59). I felt relaxed today. I walked a bit slower than I normally do.”
Appleby earned $US1,080,000 ($A1.19 million) for his win, boosting his season take to $US1,847,762 ($A2.04 million) after 24 events and jumping from 76th to 24th on the money list.
But he won’t get a long-delayed break just yet. As well as a two-year tour exemption, the victory got him into this week’s World Golf Championships event in Ohio and the following week he plays the year’s last major, the US PGA Championship.
“I can look to when I can book flights to Australia to have a rest,” said Appleby. “I’ve never done stints like this. It’s never happened for me.
But it’s all good stuff. “Certainly I’ll use this as a refresher on how to stay relaxed and get through.”
Appleby birdied the second, then began a run of four birdies at the fourth and added another at the ninth, his eighth consecutive 3 on a hole pushing him into contention.
The Aussie eagled the par-5 12th and added a birdie at the 16th to share the lead.
A 10-foot birdie at the par-5 17th put Appleby on 10-under and when he curled in another 10-foot birdie at the par-3 18th hole, he joined the 59 club.
Overton (67) missed a long birdie attempt at the last hole which could have forced a play-off with Appleby.
“I got beat by a 59,” Overton said. “What can you say?”