Fine 59 for true good guy

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

Boy, did golf ever need that.

At a time when TV ratings are sagging due to Tiger Woods’ relative decline and the fact no-names are winning majors, Stuart Appleby gave us 59 reasons to tune in Sunday.

Turning an otherwise irrelevant tourney into must-see TV, the 39-year-old Australian became just the fifth man in PGA Tour history to card a 59 Sunday.

With birdies on the final three holes, the world’s 159th-ranked golfer used his historic round to win the Greenbriar Classic by one stroke, turning a hard-luck season around dramatically.

Then again, if anyone knows about adversity, it’s Appleby, which is what made his triumph so special yesterday.

It was Appleby who lost his beloved wife Renay in a horrifically freak accident in 1998, when someone backed into her at a London train station while they were unloading their luggage from a taxi. He had just missed the cut at the British Open, and the Applebys were en route to Paris for their second honeymoon.

She died before reaching the hospital.

The watch she wore that day he carried in his pocket for years, set on London time.

A year later, his good friend and next-door neighbour, Payne Stewart, died in his private plane — a tragedy the world watched unfold live on CNN.

At the makeshift tribute tourney the next week, Appleby asked Stewart’s wife Tracey if he could wear his fallen pal’s trademark cap, plus-fours and shoes, as they all fit the Aussie perfectly.

From afar, those of us in attendance could’ve sworn it was Payne himself.

Three years later, his best finish in a major ended with heartache, as Appleby lost a four-man playoff to Ernie Els at the British Open.

And so, a dozen years and plenty of tears after Renay left her longtime love, one couldn’t be happier to see the smile on Appleby’s face as he shared one of the rarest moments in golf history with his second wife and kids.

Indeed, sometimes good guys finish first.

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world that should be in a tizzy now that Deanna Favre has renewed her gym membership in Minnesota.

Around the horn

The Calgary Flames have no choice but to deal a defenceman or two as they look to get back under the NHL salary cap. After all, with eight of them on one-way deals and talk of several youngsters being ready to break through, it’s 26-year-old Staffan Kronwall who many Flames quietly believe has some of the biggest talent and upside ... If you missed the ESPYS, do yourself a favour and check out Will Ferrell’s depiction of Jeff Vuvuzela … Scary tweet from John Daly: “Wallpaper in the Greenbrier Hotel has really been giving me some new print ideas for Loudmouth pants hanging around here!” … This gem from Dave Letterman: “BP reported last quarter they lost $17 billion — to which Tiger Woods said, ‘Hey, join the club.’ ”

Parting gifts

The Edmonton Oilers were last in the NHL, and the Eskimos are last in the CFL. Say, is that City of Champions sign still welcoming folks at the city limits? … Speaking of ugly scenes at McMahon Stadium, there was Calgary Stampeders defensive lineman Devone Claybrooks calling the fashion police on FAN 960’s Pat Steinberg for an unruly pair of board shorts that featured fluorescent yellow, pink and blue flowers … Last word this week goes to Letterman: “ESPN has come out with a report that contains countless health code violations of the stadium food concession stands all across the country. The worst place fans are getting sick at Miami, where the Marlins play. Here is how bad it is: The fans have gotten more runs this year than the team.”

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca


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