Originally created 10/13/03

Appleby beats McCarron in playoff



LAS VEGAS -- Stuart Appleby birdied the first playoff hole at the Las Vegas Invitational on Sunday to beat Scott McCarron and get his first PGA Tour victory since 1999.

Appleby pumped his fist when he made the decisive 15-foot putt. McCarron had a chance to extend the playoff with a putt almost identical to Appleby's. However, his shot broke left and slid by the hole.

"As soon as I saw it, I thought I could make it," Appleby said. "As it was going to the hole, I thought, 'It's a little slow, a little left,' but it dropped in."

Appleby and McCarron were tied at 31-under 328 at the end of the tournament's 90 holes. Both missed birdie putts on 18 that could have won them the tournament in regulation - Appleby from about 16 feet and McCarron from about 12 feet.

Appleby, the leader going into the final round, shot a 3-under 69 Sunday at the TPC Summerlin course. The win was his first since the Houston Open four years ago.

He finished second here last year, a shot behind Phil Tataurangi. Appleby came into this week with second-place finishes in his last two tournaments, including last week at the American Express Championship, where he finished in a tie with Tim Herron and Vijay Singh, two shots back of Tiger Woods.

McCarron closed with a 6-under 66. It was another tough loss for McCarron in a tournament where he has consistently played well. Two years ago he led by three shots going into the final round, but finished tied for fourth after his caddie accidentally broke his driver the night before the final 18 holes.

McCarron ran into some more bad luck Sunday.

As he was preparing to hit his second shot in the playoff hole, a member of the on-course TV crew coughed loudly.

McCarron stepped back from his ball, looked over and asked, "Are you all right now? Good."

McCarron still hit a good shot, his ball nearly making contact with Appleby's on the green as it came to rest.

"He hacked up ... just as I was getting ready to hit," McCarron said. "For a guy like that who's supposed to be professional and doing his job, that was really out of line."

McCarron missed a short birdie putt on No. 13 when a car screeched on a nearby street just as he took the putter back.

"I heard it and it broke my concentration," he said. "Things like that happen when you lose."

In contrast, Appleby caught a big break on the tough par-3 17th hole for the second straight day.

His tee shot, as it did on Saturday, bounced left and headed for the pond that runs alongside the green. But, just like the day before, the ball stayed a couple of feet short of the hazard.

Appleby, who had taken a one-shot lead with a birdie on the par-5 16th, chipped up and made a bogey that left him tied with McCarron going to 18.

"Stuart's ball stays up on 17 twice. It was just his turn to win," McCarron said.

Steve Lowery shot a final round 67 and finished third, three shots back. Scott Verplank (67) was fourth at 332 and David Frost (65) next at 333.