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February 23, 2005

Stuart Appleby


CHRIS REIMER: Stuart Appleby, thanks for joining us. I'm sure you'd rather be playing some golf today. But we'll just open it right up for questions.

Q. How bad is it out there?

STUART APPLEBY: I haven't seen the course. I walked on it today, but it looks like it's in worse condition than yesterday, and yesterday was bad.

Q. That's optimistic?

STUART APPLEBY: The course was extremely wet. There was many holes out there that were unplayable, you couldn't get relief from, and I would imagine right now, I would think that the chances ‑‑ my personal opinion of getting the course playable ‑‑ and the question is what's playable, what is that and whose opinion is that, there's probably a 25 percent chance that we'd have a playable golf course tomorrow.

Q. From what you've seen already and what you've played already out there, what is playable in your mind?

STUART APPLEBY: Well, I guess if you hit a ball in the fairway, let's talk about the ball in the fairway, and you can take a casual water drop that's within a reasonable distance of where you are, I would say at least within ten yards, and I would think for some out there you could not find a drop. You could have a 100‑yard shot and the next one would be 200. That's the issue, when you can't take a relief that's reasonable, or you're in the rough and you can't get to the fairways.

Bunkers are an issue, the greens are extremely soft, as soft as you're going to see the greens anywhere. They don't have free‑standing water on them, and we won't get that, but it will be dead in the fairways. The course is so wet now, so soaked, more than anything that anybody ‑‑ I think anybody's ever seen, and the torrent of river is so high that it's not ‑‑ being so high, it's not allowing the water to draw off the fairways.

Q. How many holes did you play yesterday?

STUART APPLEBY: I played nine and I didn't go on just because I knew tomorrow ‑‑ today, actually, today was going to be a waste.

Q. Did you get any plugs yesterday in the fairway?

STUART APPLEBY: No, not really. I think it was too wet to plug, just skidded everywhere. There's more water on the grounds than mud, so it gets washed when it lands. The greens obviously, thank goodness it's not a regular event, the greens would be unputtable. If we had 140, 150 yards, it would be a mess. There's not much you can do. Mother Nature has made a mess of the whole area, and this course is not geographically in the right area, in the bottom of a valley.

But to be honest, I've never seen this tournament dry, and we probably never, ever will. The date's not optimal for the course to be in the shape it could be.

Q. Speaking of which, time to move it, do you think?

STUART APPLEBY: I don't know this area well, so I don't know if there's ‑‑ if there are any good courses around here we could go to. I don't know this area to know. If you looked at it and said this is a massive inconvenience, it's not good for the sponsors, difficult for the players, difficult for the organizers, difficult for TV. You'd have to think this is a bit of a freak event, LA was a bit of a freak event, so to be honest, personally, this golf course is never, ever in its optimal condition. Even the best it's ever been here it's still very wet.

Q. How about if we move the whole West Coast swing to Australia?

STUART APPLEBY: Fine by me, I'd be very happy. The West Coast swing is a bit of a weather issue for us. It would be nice if we could have the West Coast swing at another time of the year or start later in the year when maybe it would be better. February is a pretty wet month, at least here it's one of the wetter months, and I'm not a meteorologist, but I've heard that said. We're bound to get rain. We need to find a site that's not in a compromising situation.

Most events here we're okay, but you certainly do ‑‑ it brings in an element of a bit more of luck when the course is like this. No one likes to lift, clean and cheat. Everyone would rather play it where it lies. The golf is unbelievably brutal. I haven't played Pebble Beach, because the weather there has been an issue for me. Every time I've played, there's never been four rounds. I don't think I've ever played four rounds. It obviously doesn't appeal.

Maybe last week Retief had a talk with the golfing gods, and said might as well go ahead and get DQ'd, same with Ernie this week, so maybe it's a South African thing. They know something we don't know, they know events that don't need to be played. Maybe Gary Player, he's a golfing god, maybe he's got some presence, divine.

Q. Changing subjects, what's the state of your game?

STUART APPLEBY: We'll find out if I'm a good mudder or not, if I'm good when it's wet. Hawaii wasn't anything like this. But, yeah, the game feels all right. It's probably not quite as perfect as Hawaii. And match play I never, ever really seem to show you that ‑‑ your top form in this format. You can win after shooting 75 the first day, and any tournament would chuck you out of the tournament in stroke play, and you can still win it from there. You wouldn't be too worried about your form in match play, you'd be more worried about improving it as the rounds got on. You'd be looking to improve it, since as you go on you'll get stiffer competition.

Q. I think you've played six competitive rounds?

STUART APPLEBY: I haven't played much, no. I haven't played much. It's been very quiet, the West Coast Swing, a little bit due to the tournaments and weather, I prefer not to play. Playing in Australia takes a bit more time.

Q. How's the fatherhood thing working for you, being a 30‑some‑year‑old child yourself?

STUART APPLEBY: I'm learning. It's a fantastic process. A lot of ‑‑ I'm doing a small amount of the work and it's tiring, so I imagine ‑‑ she's doing a great job. But it's pretty great. It's a lot of fun yeah, just enjoying the whole process, now that I guess it's been ‑‑ well, six weeks. I don't even know where six weeks has gone. It's fun.

Q. Is it costing you sleep?

STUART APPLEBY: Yeah, a little bit. I'm actually getting used to being woken quite a lot through the night and getting back to sleep, something I don't know if I could have done before. If you woke me up I'd struggle a little bit.

Q. Are they going to travel with you?

STUART APPLEBY: Yeah. Ashley brings me out on Tour, I don't bring me out on Tour. She drags me around. Well, Ashley won't sit home, so it will be all three of us for years, really, unless we have too many kids and it becomes a traveling road show.

Q. How are you handling the diaper thing?

STUART APPLEBY: That's easy.

Q. Easy to do or ‑‑

STUART APPLEBY: I grew up on a farm, so so far I've seen more cow crap than I've seen baby crap.

Q. How does ‑‑ with the grounds this wet, how does it affect your shot‑making, what you're able to do?

STUART APPLEBY: Well, the ball is very heavy, the ground is very heavy, the ball flies a lot less, the ball does just seem to not really have any lift to it, certainly out of the rough. The sand is like wet cement; it's heavy and wet and sloppy to hit out of. There's a lot of things that need to be adjusted. Your attitude needs to be totally the same, about, yeah, very difficult to getting used to the lies, the distance. We obviously are going to play lift, clean and place all week.

You do need to have a little bit of a mental background of what's that like to play in these conditions, which again, a lot of that information for a lot of the players will have come from here before.

Q. Who does it favor, do you think, the conditions, with the rough the way it is and ‑‑

STUART APPLEBY: The fact that you're a long driver here, you can strike this week. Someone who flies the ball, and someone who is hitting straight. If you're long here, it won't do anything if you're crooked; you'll be chipping out most times, slopping it out.

Q. We haven't gotten any word today of what they do plan to do. You said 25 percent chance of it being, what, playable?

STUART APPLEBY: Well, yesterday was not playable. We could have played today ‑‑ no ‑‑ well, they canceled ‑‑ well, they delayed today obviously to tomorrow. And that was with the course getting better. This course needs minimum of 24 to 48 hours, probably 36 to 48 hours to actually be back in playable condition where your drops are reasonable, not ridiculous. Some fairways out there, there was nowhere to drop. And match play doesn't have to be 18 holes, it could be nine holes played twice. It's the format. We potentially could play the driest holes out here, potentially. I know it's a low, but I don't see the Tour pulling that. We'll just play in.

Q. But would you be upset, then, if they put you guys out there tomorrow?

STUART APPLEBY: I guess each match is played under the same conditions, and you hope that each of you are going to get as lucky or as unlucky as each other. It's never ideal conditions here anyway, so it's hard to say what ideal conditions are. Palm Springs, nice, consistent. Wind doesn't matter, but if the greens are smooth and the wind is consistent ‑‑ this has never, ever been that way. But there comes a point where, yeah, it can get ridiculous, guys taking a drop and hitting it in the rough, and now it's in the fairway and ‑‑ if you start seeing that ‑‑ if a player takes a legitimate drop and he's back in the fairway, that's when it becomes ‑‑ that's when golf starts to get ridiculous.

Q. It wouldn't surprise you, then, if this thing didn't come off at all, then?

STUART APPLEBY: They say no rain is coming tomorrow, but I don't foresee the course being ready tomorrow. And what is tomorrow ‑‑ tomorrow is Thursday ‑‑ so you're talking about Friday. Well, what are you going to do, three days to fit in seven rounds? How do you do that? You have to pack in ‑‑ it's packing them in pretty tight. You can potentially do that, but good chance also that it will extend to Monday. And you don't really want tournaments to go to Monday. TV doesn't want that. It's not a peak period to them.

Everybody wants to move on to the next tournament. I'm not sure how you get in that many rounds, knock out that many rounds in three days. We have five now, and it's pretty intense.

Q. Hard to get into a rhythm from last week and this week for you guys?

STUART APPLEBY: That's what we're talking about. Ernie didn't want to play here. I guess he got it all worked out, and Retief accidentally had it all worked out, got too harsh a penalty from good intentions, but I could fall out of that category. Our intention was to play the Pro Am, but with the new baby, I was so tired, I showed up ten minutes late ‑‑

Q. Nick Price said last week that he thought there should be maybe room for at least one bye?

STUART APPLEBY: I think unfortunately the rule was emotionally made by the people that thought there's surplus players out there that are abusing it. And there was a need for one. The question I always think you should ask when you're making the rule, any rule for the Tour is what if it happened to Tiger Woods? If it happened to Tiger Woods ‑‑ and Retief Goosen is the most least known great player we have. He'd be first to say that you don't hear about him doing interviews. The top four players, Vijay, Tiger, Ernie and Phil; why aren't we hearing Retief's name? He's a 3rd or 4th ranked player playing last week and walks out of the tournament; that's sad.

The tournaments don't want to see that. His intentions were to play the Pro Am. That's the difference. His intentions were to play. He's got a perfect record. You have to look at each individual cuts. And maybe a fine, simple as a fine. You do that, but you can't just blanket rule over something like that. If it happened to Tiger, it could, he tees off at 6:49 every week, gets stuck in a traffic jam, the battery stops in his hotel room, he misses his tee time, and he leaves the tournament. We know that's 10, 20, 30 percent of ratings gone. You think the tournament wants that? No way. He's never missed a Pro Am.

That's a silly rule that I think will be changed. And I think that, sure, I'm sure there are plenty of other players that the rule is built for players who are deemed to be cheating the system.

Q. Because you've never seen this course anything but wet the years you've come here, does this get to be an event where you're looking at the calendar, you kind of half dread it?

STUART APPLEBY: Not dread it. The match play format, you guys have written about many times before is a very different format to stroke play. Compared to tennis, it's like having a perfect machine that calls every ball in and out, one minute, and all of a sudden one of the umpires have one eye and are not watching the match. You can get away with things sometimes, get screwed other times. It's very ‑‑ it's not purely directed on how low your score is.

I remember when I played the World Match Play many years ago with Lee Westwood, I shot 8‑ or 9‑under for the two rounds that we played in that match, the first round, and he shot like 11‑, 11‑ or 12‑. I won every other match, I would have been first round gone, and that's what will happen this week. Not anyone is going to shoot 8‑ or 9‑under, somebody is going to play good and lose. When I was a kid and ‑‑

Q. What tournament was that when you were a kid?

STUART APPLEBY: I was at Kingston Heath. It was the Victorian Amateur. So I know I bring my rain pants. This is the biggest tournament I bring my rain pants to. You bring an old pair of shoes and pack plenty of gloves, and you make sure your umbrella has Scotchguard on it. This is a muddy week.

But you don't think of missing it. Maybe Ernie Els knew something we didn't know about. It is very hit‑and‑miss.

Q. Who are you playing in the first round?

STUART APPLEBY: Joakim Haeggman.

Q. Know anything about him?

STUART APPLEBY: Swede, good player, right‑hander, got a good fast ball (laughter).

Q. Ever see him?

STUART APPLEBY: I played with him at the British Open; we played one round together. Yes, that's all ‑‑ I know he's a good player. I know he ‑‑ yeah, that's all I can say.

Q. Other than the sleep thing, what's been the most interesting difference in your life?

STUART APPLEBY: Interesting difference, how much now you have to dedicate a portion of your life now somewhere else, that energy has to go somewhere else. Much attention has to go to such a little thing. And how many clothes you're buying, and things you're buying and acquiring. Yeah, and you're constantly sterilizing, washing bottles and buying things, buying nappies and just ‑‑ you're in this routine and you can't escape.

But it's pretty cool. I love it. And thank God Ash is doing most of the work, because I'm stuck out on the golf course for eight to ten hours a day. It certainly takes both of us, but Ashley is taking most of the burden, and Ella is Daddy's little girl, that's for sure.

End of FastScripts.

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