Appleby strolls to victory in Houston

Australian Stuart Appleby shot a five-under-par 67 en route to a six-stroke victory at the Shell Houston Open.

Australian Stuart Appleby shot a five-under-par 67 en route to a six-stroke victory at the Shell Houston Open.

Appleby finished at 19-under 269 to win with plenty of cushion over Bob Estes.

It was the second victory of the year and eighth career win for Appleby, who captured the Mercedes Championship in January.

“What I am trying to do is get better at having a well-rounded game,” Appleby said. “That quality of golf is going to put me in contention more often.”

He became the second wire-to-wire winner at an event this year, joining Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who led from the start at the Bell South Classic.

“To have a comfortable victory has never left my lips,” Appleby said. “I have never had that luxury.”

“It was nice coming down the last part of the day (knowing) things were in hand and it was just a little bit easier to relax.”

Appleby has dominated the Mercedes Championship, winning it the previous three times and now has multiple victories at this event.

Appleby won this event in 1999 and joined the likes of Jackie Burke, Arnold Palmer and Vijay Singh, who have won the event more than once. Singh and Curtis Strange are tied for most victories here with three.

It did not take long for Appleby to set the tone as he drained a 21-foot birdie putt on the first hole to open a three-shot lead.

The lead never dipped below two strokes for Appleby, who carded a three-under 33 on the front nine, a run that included four birdies and a bogey.

Mathias Gronberg, who was in the final group with Appleby, began the day two strokes behind, but struggled on the front nine, shooting a one-under 35.

Gronberg spent the rest of the day battling his irons and struggled with Eses for second place. He ended the round with a one-over 73 and finished fourth.

“It was hard,” Gronberg said. “I didn’t really get anything going, really fought hard, but I just kept on missing a couple of putts.”

Appleby made a four-foot birdie on the 10th and followed it with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 11th to go to 19 under and a five-stroke lead.

The lead went to seven after Appleby made a birdie on the 13th hole and Estes bogeyed.

Estes began the day four strokes behind but thought his chances were good to get close to Appleby.

“I definitely felt like I could win it,” Estes said. “I knew I still had a chance but I couldn’t make any mistakes and when I bogeyed eight and nine, and when I bogeyed 14 that was kind of the end of it for me probably.”

Despite having eight career victories, Appleby will end a year with more than one for the first time.

“It’s a good year,” said Appleby. “Winning on the tour twice is a good achievement for me.”

Collated final round scores and totals in the USPGA Tour Shell Houston Open, Redstone GC, Houston, United States (USA unless stated, par 72):

269 Stuart Appleby (Aus) 66 67 69 67

275 Bob Estes 71 69 66 69

276 Steve Stricker 72 70 68 66

277 Mathias Gronberg (Swe) 68 69 67 73

278 Jerry Smith 67 70 69 72

279 J.L. Lewis 71 69 68 71, Richard S Johnson (Swe) 72 69 67 71, KJ Choi (Kor) 71 69 67 72, Brett Wetterich 70 69 69 71, Mike Weir (Can) 71 71 70 67

280 Rich Beem 73 69 67 71, Hunter Mahan 69 72 69 70, Paul Goydos 69 71 68 72, Nick Watney 71 69 69 71, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69 67 71 73

281 Jeff Gove 69 71 68 73, Ted Purdy 69 73 72 67, Mathew Goggin (Aus) 70 73 69 69

282 Jeff Overton 71 69 69 73, Roland Thatcher 70 70 71 71

283 Wes Short jr. 72 68 68 75, Roger Tambellini 72 69 71 71, Kevin Sutherland 71 70 71 71, Scott Gutschewski 73 68 70 72, Ian Poulter (Eng) 72 69 70 72, Charley Hoffman 70 67 75 71, Lucas Glover 71 68 74 70, Ryan Palmer 71 69 72 71, Charles Warren 68 73 72 70, John Senden (Aus) 71 69 72 71, Brett Quigley 73 70 68 72

284 Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 71 73 69 71, Tommy Armour III 73 71 73 67

285 Daisuke Maruyama (Jpn) 73 70 69 73, Greg Owen (Eng) 69 65 75 76

286 Billy Andrade 73 69 70 74, Brent Geiberger 68 74 71 73, Skip Kendall 70 71 72 73, Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 68 70 72 76, Tag Ridings 70 69 75 72, Stephen Leaney (Aus) 68 71 72 75, Daniel Chopra (Swe) 74 69 71 72, Vijay Singh (Fij) 69 71 75 71

287 Greg Chalmers (Aus) 72 69 73 73, Brandt Jobe 73 68 76 70, Jerry Kelly 72 71 74 70, Jesper Parnevik (Swe) 69 73 74 71, Charles Howell III 70 70 75 72, Scott McCarron 69 71 71 76, Duffy Waldorf 71 73 74 69, Henrik Bjornstad (Nor) 71 69 72 75, Gavin Coles (Aus) 75 67 74 71, Jimmy Walker 71 70 72 74

288 Blaine McCallister 71 68 76 73, Gabriel Hjertstedt (Swe) 72 69 77 70, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 72 72 69 75, Marco Dawson 72 70 73 73, Larry Mize 73 69 72 74

289 B.J Staten 73 70 69 77, John Daly 69 72 73 75, Shaun Micheel 73 70 73 73, Camilo Villegas (Col) 72 72 74 71, Chris Smith 72 72 75 70, Olin Browne 70 74 70 75, Paul Azinger 71 70 74 74, Greg Kraft 73 67 77 72, Michael Allen 74 70 73 72

290 Vance Veazey 72 71 75 72, Jason Gore 71 71 74 74

291 Jonathan Kaye 70 74 74 73, Bo Van Pelt 76 68 72 75, D.A. Points 67 72 78 74, Robert Damron 73 69 76 73

292 Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 69 71 79 73, Frank Lickliter II 69 75 78 70, Phil Tataurangi (Nzl) 73 71 72 76

293 Patrick Sheehan 70 72 75 76

294 Kevin Stadler 71 68 77 78, David Branshaw 71 73 76 74, Lee Janzen 70 70 77 77

297 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 73 71 78 75

301 Shane Bertsch 74 69 76 82.

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