Appleby believes he can win again
The wretched run with loss of form, confidence and injury over the past two years has not dimmed the will and determination of Stuart Appleby to win again.
So said the man fronting what for him has been a rare post-round media conference, following a wind tossed third round of the Emirates Australian Open.
Stuart Appleby checks his line on the 17th at The Lakes during the third round of the Australian Open (Photo: Anthony Powter)
Appleby carded a 1 under par 71 to sit four back of leader John Senden at 3 under par but it was a round that promised so much more.
Bad bounces and one bad swing lead to late bogeys after he had shared the lead with Justin Rose at one point on the back nine.
Despite that disappointment, Appleby appeared content with his form and the opportunity to contend for a golf tournament again.
“I feel like I’m coming back. My game is definitely on the uptake. Mentally, I’ve really struggled over the past two years, to just believe in myself, believe in all the great things I’ve done and that I was that person. I’ve been working very hard on that and making progress.”
“Today, I was trying to get comfortable on the golf course. I haven’t made a lot of cuts and you’d think with a guy of my experience who’s had all these wins, you never think that making a cut was a nice thing.”
“You take it for granted but this was a nice thing to play at the weekend and now I’m up there (in contention) again and I feel like I’m re-learning.”
“I have a real belief that I can win again but I’ve been tested a lot his year. It’s a challenge for me that I’m up for. I’ve got ten years of golf left in me if I want to be the player I want to be.”
The nine time PGA Tour winner will use up a final one-time exemption from the career money list in order to compete in 2013, after finishing outside the top 150 money earners this season.
He had the opportunity of contesting the Qualifying School in November to potentially save that exemption for another time but opted out in favour of competing at home in the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath.
Such a leap of faith in his ability to bounce back is admirable although the thought of giving it all away did cross his mind when in the depths of despair, if only briefly.
“At the darkest time, you’re shaking your head going ‘I don’t know if I want to do is anymore’ but luckily, that thought process didn’t last for long.”
“I know I have the talent, I know I’ve got the resources and the willpower and I can’t wait for my next victory.”
With predictions of strong winds again for the final round on Sunday, Appleby may not be waiting long for the next win given his pedigree as a wind player and the growing confidence in his game.
His play in the third round alongside 2012 Tour winner Kyle Stanley stood up strongly in comparison and if the putts start to drop, a second Australian Open title to go with his 2001 win at The Grand Golf Club on the Gold Coast may not be beyond the realms of possibility.