Posted on: December 13, 2010 2:46 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 2:46 pm

For Appleby, comeback not a long walkabout

ORLANDO, Fla. -- We Floridians are used to some odd and largely indefensible outcomes in our elections, for good reason.

Maybe this is another example why they use the electoral college for the important things.

The Florida-based PGA Tour on Monday announced its last award of the 2010 season when Aussie veteran Stuart Appleby was voted the Comeback Player of the Year.

In a vote of tour members, he bested India's Arjun Atwal and U.S. veteran Rocco Mediate for the award, granted annually to a player who has overcome some sort of obstacle, personally or professionally.

Appleby overcame what, exactly? Apathy?

After struggling through an uncharacteristically bad 2009 season, the popular Australian was outside the top 125 in earnings coming down the stretch when he told the Golf Channel that he would be skipping the season finale at Disney World and heading to Australia instead. That's not the most surprising part. Disney is located about eight miles from his back door at Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, Fla., where Appleby makes his American home.

Rather than try to salvage his season in credible fashion, Appleby instead elected to put the arm on tournaments for one of their limited sponsor exemptions in 2010. He eventually won the first-year Greenbrier event, shooting 59 in the final round, a creditable achievement, to be sure.

Mediate was an interesting nominee to begin with, since it was just two years ago that he faced Tiger Woods in a playoff for the U.S. Open title. Mediate this year won the Frys.com event outside San Jose in the Fall Series.

The case for Atwal was perhaps most interesting of all. A former European Tour winner player who had lost his U.S. card, he had no status when he won at Greensboro after wedging his way into the field via the difficult Monday qualifying process. But winning the comeback award would have been an uncomfortable issue for the tour, since Atwal was involved in a fatal car accident near his Orlando home in 2007 in which the Florida Highway Patrol and witnesses believed he was racing a man who was killed when the latter's car veered off the road.

While no charges ultimately were filed by the state attorney against Atwal relating to the wreck, it marked the first time in decades that a PGA Tour player was linked to an accidental death. Needless to say, any perceived comeback award after such an emotionally charged incident would have been a tough one for the image-conscious tour to stomach.

Continuing its ridiculous policy, the PGA Tour did not release the voting totals of any of its peer-ballot awards from 2010.

To me, the guy who should have won -- and he wasn't even on the ballot -- is Matt Kuchar, who led the tour in earnings and scoring average, then made the Ryder Cup team, just four years removed from being sent down to the Nationwide Tour for more seasoning.

There's a winner who wouldn’t have raised a single eyebrow.

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