Experience helps outgunned Appleby cope with time

Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:19pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

(Reuters) - Stuart Appleby laments that his days are probably numbered on the PGA Tour, although the veteran showed signs of vigour with an impressive final-round charge before finishing joint second at last week's Barclays tournament.

The Australian was one of the longer hitters when he first joined the tour nearly two decades ago, but he struggles these days to keep up with the young bombers who routinely drive the ball more than 300 yards.

Age and a creaky back have taken an inevitable toll on the 43-year-old Appleby, who is a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour and a member of the exclusive club of players who have shot 59.

"The young guys just smash it and they would be happy to put us (older guys) off the tour," Appleby, who fired a six-under-par 65 at Ridgewood Country Club on Sunday to secure his best finish on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, told Reuters.

Of course, underlining how Darwinian the world of professional sport can be, Appleby himself used to be a young bomber who probably forced some of the older guys of the previous era off the tour.

"I went from top 20 in driving distance when I first came on tour to between 160th and 180th now," said the former Australian Rules football player.

"I've lost length from where my peak length was. Equipment has kept me going forward but my body has pulled me back a bit.

"I go out there and hit a cracking drive and I'm first to hit (my second shot). I was never first to hit. That takes its toll over four days."   Continued...

Jun 28, 2014; Bethesda, MD, USA; Stuart Appleby  hits his tee shot on the fourth  hole during the third round of the Quicken Loans National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club - Blue Course. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports - RTR3W7US