November 14, 2007 – PGA Tour star Stuart Appleby is ready to follow the example of Retief Goosen and Ernie Els by competing in tournaments around the world.
The US-based Australian has broken away from his normal schedule to take part in this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open and says he is relishing the change of scenery.
“I’m looking forward to it as it’s been a long time since I was last here [in the early Nineties],” said Appleby.
“This year I also played in Qatar and Dubai – it was good to get away and get out of the nest and become a bit more global in my schedule.
“Guys like Ernie and Retief play somewhere else all the time, which is good, and this, being in the middle of my career, is a path I might want to take on a little bit more.
“I’m not sure how much, it’ll probably just evolve. I’ve also got a family and with two young kids you have to try and balance that out as well but it was nice of UBS to invite me.”
Appleby – an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour – is one of the leading contenders at the UBS Hong Kong Open, which begins on Thursday (November 15, 2007) at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
The field for the US$2.25 million showpiece also includes two-time US Open winner Goosen, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir and world No.11 KJ Choi.
Appleby last played in the Hong Kong Open when it was an Asian Tour-only event and is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Fanling’s par-70 Championship layout.
The tournament is now co-sanctioned by the European Tour and prize money has almost tripled in the three years since UBS assumed title sponsorship.
“I was here in maybe 1993 or 1994,” said Appleby. “I don’t remember who won and I didn’t play very well but I do remember the golf course. I had just turned professional then.
“I enjoyed the experience as a new golfer trying to learn the game and at the time I’d never seen a golf course like this, growing up in Australia.
“There’s been amazing growth here and nearby. The course is as I remember it but playing a bit shorter, probably to do with the advances in technology.
“This is a type of course that I understand – and I play in Florida so I’m used to the grainy greens. It’s a good, simple, classic style of course. You have to hit the ball straight and be confident with your putter.”
Appleby said he didn’t feel under any extra pressure as one of the tournament drawcards.
“As a player you’re always putting pressure on yourself,” he pointed out. “I’m just looking forward to getting into the thick of things, as a player that’s what you play for. You enjoy the hunt.
“You don’t just like playing golf, you want to play and be competitive.”