Stuart Appleby’s emergence as one of the finest golfers in the world is a far cry from his formative years on a dairy farm in Cohuna where he used to hit golf balls from paddock to paddock as a part of his practice regime.
Stuart’s talents were rewarded with a scholarship to the Victorian Institute of Sport. If confirmation was needed, his ability shone through in 1991 when he won the Victorian Amateur Championship, the Australian Junior Championship and the Queensland Open [as an amateur].
Stuart turned professional at the end of the following year and although he recorded a couple of top ten finishes in each of his first two seasons on the Australasian Tour, it did not meet the high expectations that had been set for him. All that changed in 1994 when he won four tournaments on the Foundation Tour: the Victorian PGA Championship, South Australia PGA Championship, Nedlands Masters and the Tassie Classic.
With confidence restored Stuart enjoyed a highly successful 1995 season winning the Monterrey and Sonoma Opens on the BUY.COM Tour in the United States to finish fifth on their money list and earn a spot on the US Tour. Despite finishing in the top 10 in New Orleans, the 1996 season proved disappointing and in the fall of that year Stuart found himself back at the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.
Undaunted he regained his playing privileges and enjoyed a triumphant return to the Tour in 1997 to establish himself as one of the game’s rising young stars. He won the Honda Classic, finished second twice and became the first Qualifying School graduate to earn more than US$1million [in the following season].
Stuart continued his winning ways at the 1998 Kemper Open. However, his life was turned upside down in July that year with the tragic death of his wife and best friend, Renay. As they were about to embark on a romantic holiday she was crushed between two cars outside a train station in London and passed away in Stuart’s arms. Renay was a very fine player in her own right and The Renay Appleby Memorial Trophy is now awarded annually to the best female junior player in New South Wales.
Stuart’s mental strength shone through when he made a highly emotional return to the world golfing stage at the US PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club.
He finished the year with a 2nd placing in the Holden Australian Open and a win at the Schweppes Coolum Classic, a victory he dedicated to Renay for giving him
the strength to win his first title since her death. Stuart was also a member of the victorious International Team at the Presidents Cup played at Royal Melbourne in his home State of Victoria.
Stuart has worked through his hardship and amazed the golf world with his determination which, matched with his immense golfing ability, has prompted legends such as Peter Thomson to state that “Stuart will win a major.” Stuart won the Shell Houston Open in May, 1999 and whilst he did not record a victory in 2000 he enjoyed a consistent campaign including 5 top ten placings in the US to finish 24th on the money list.
Currently Stuart is Australia’s highest ranked golfer and one of our most recognisable sports personalities. He won the 2003 Las Vegas Invitational, catapulting himself to the 11th spot on the PGA Tour money list.
Stuart returned to the winner’s circle by taking out the 2001 Australian Open to secure his first Stonehaven Cup.
Stuart Appleby travels from Victoria Australia