By Andrew Bothof AAP
STUART Appleby can certainly afford a nice cot for his impending arrival after winning the US PGA Tour's $US5.3 million Mercedes Championship in Hawaii yesterday.
The 33-year-old Victorian made a hit-and-run five-day visit to Maui, earning $US1,060,000 before leaving for an overnight flight back to Melbourne, where wife Ashley is due to have their first child on Wednesday.
And Appleby was as surprised as anyone to be clutching the keys to a new Mercedes Benz SL500 after giving world No.1 Vijay Singh an eight-shot start after the first round.
"I didn't think it was going to be an option, winning from there," he said of his first round 74, which left him equal second last in the elite 31-man winners-only field.
"If it was a US Open, 1-over might not look too bad, but being eight shots back of Vijay was a bit disappointing.
"I stumbled out of the gates. You could have got long odds on me winning but I wasn't discouraged.
"I played pretty good and the second day I got on a roll."
"I had a great opportunity to shoot real deep, and the same with the third day," he said.
Appleby, the first player since 1974 to win the event after an over-par first round, played flawlessly over the final 54 holes.
He did not drop a shot, hit 50 of 54 greens in regulation and shot rounds of 64, 66 and 67 to pass, among others, Singh, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, all of whom were in contention.
Appleby started the final round four shots from the lead and made his move with two quick birdies in the strong winds, before rolling in a fourmetre eagle to tie for the lead at the downwind, downhill parfour sixth, where he drove the green with a 350-metre poke.
With five holes left he was tied with Jonathan Kaye, Stewart Cink and third-round leader Singh at 20 under, but Appleby was the only player to get to 21 under.
He did so with a nine-metre birdie at the 17th, before salvaging par at the last after coming within a metre of pulling his tee shot into a hazard, from where his ball would have been unplayable.
"I tried to hit it too hard," he said.
"I thought it was in the rough but I didn't expect it to be (so close to big trouble)."
He pitched out to the fairway, struck a nice five-iron to the heart of the green, and two-putted for par to finish at 21-under 271, one stroke better than American Kaye (71), who could only par the last after hitting a poor pitch shot from 50 metres out.
Ernie Els (71), who bogeyed the last after losing a ball with a wild drive, and Tiger Woods (68) tied for third, two shots behind, while Singh (74) finished another shot back after a triple bogey at the 13th.
Singh tied for fifth with Australian Adam Scott (65), who shot the day's best score.
Appleby, the first player to successfully defend his title in 23 years, nearly didn't play here after last week struggling with an inflamed nerve that caused pain in his left hip and hamstring. -AAP