Tue, Jan 11, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Appleby passes Els, Singh

AP , KAPALUA, HAWAII

Stuart Appleby of Australia kisses his trophy after winning the Mercedes Championship in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii on Sunday. He won US$1.06 million and a new sports car.

PHOTO: AFP

Stuart Appleby became the first back-to-back winner in 22 years at the Mercedes Championships, closing with a 6-under 67 and letting Vijay Singh and Ernie Els make all the mistakes Sunday.

Appleby almost didn't return to defend his title because of a nerve injury in his left thigh, but he made the trip worthwhile, and it will be even sweeter going home to Australia. His wife is expecting their first child this week.

He didn't look like a winner until the back nine on a rainy, windy day at Kapalua.

Appleby opened with a 74, becoming the first winner in seven years at Kapalua to have a round over par. And he never birdied the par-4 18th all week, but that didn't matter.

"You'd have to say it's slightly surprising," Appleby said. "You look at where I was after round one, you would not have put any money on me."

Els needed a birdie on the 18th to force a playoff, but his tee shot sailed far to the right, bounced high off the cart path and disappeared into trees and rough for a two-shot penalty.

Singh, trying to become the first wire-to-wire winner at Kapalua, was tied for the lead until he hooked his tee shot into the weeds on No. 13 and took a triple bogey.

Appleby finished at 21-under 271 for a one-shot victory over Kaye.

The 33-year-old Aussie won for the sixth time on tour, and earned US$1.06 million and a Mercedes-Benz sports car.

Best of all, he can plan on another trip to paradise next year.

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