The Loop

Johnson: Familiar Failure for Stuart Appleby

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Maybe Stuart Appleby just wanted to get it out of the way early.

Holding the lead after 36 holes at Torrey Pines, Appleby wasn't exactly playing to his strength. In fact, three times in the prior 10 majors, Appleby came into the final round of a major residing in the top 10 with a realistic chance of winning. He performed miserably every time, and Saturday was no different.

His third-round 79 at Torrey Pines (including a 41 on the front nine) was just the latest example of Appleby failing to keep his composure on golf's biggest stages. In the 2005 PGA at Baltusrol, Appleby was T-4 after 54 holes. A 70 would have gotten him in a playoff with Phil Mickelson, but he shot 75 on a day when 17 players shot 70 or lower.

At the 2007 Masters, Appleby had the lead after 54 holes. A 71 would have won the Masters, but Appleby imploded with another 75, including a pair of double bogeys.

Two months later, Appleby was T-10 at the U.S. Open. A 68 would have gotten in a playoff—-a tall task at Oakmont. But instead of threatening,  Appleby shot 79.

As we said, maybe he wanted to get it out of the way early.

--Mike Johnson