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Fairy-Tale Start

Injured and sweating out the birth of his first child, Stuart Appleby wasn't given much of a chance to defend his title at the Mercedes

SI: How does a guy open with a 74, putting him second-to-last, then shoot 646667 to become the first player since 1983 to repeat at the Mercedes Championships?

SA: If it were the U.S. Open, one over might not be too bad, but since Vijay [Singh] started [seven under], being eight shots back was disappointing. I have to thank my putter.

SI: Singh and Ernie Els both blew a chance to win on Sunday. Did you know what was going on behind you?

SA: I was doing my own thing. That's all I could do--run hard across the line and see if I could get my nose in front.

SI: How close did you come to withdrawing because of the impingement of the sciatic nerve in your left hip?

SA: [A few days before the tournament] there was no way I could play. Then I went to see my trainer, had a stretch and hit it almost pain-free.

SI: Your wife, Ashley, is due to give birth to your first child in a few days. Did you borrow Phil Mickelson's beeper?

SA: No. The only time I got nervous was when I got home from a round and the cellphone had a message on it and the message light on my hotel phone was flashing. I looked at the two and thought, Oh, s, that better not be it.

SI: Would you have left even though you were in contention?

SA: In a heartbeat. One of the reasons I came here was because the baby did not look as if it would come early. It didn't look as if it was in the slot, so to speak.

SI: You won $1,060,000 and a Mercedes CLS500.

SA: I've been checking out the Mercedes. It's a sexy beast.

SI: Someone said your caddie was trying to call dibs.

SA: He can bugger off!

SI: So you get your sixth career victory, the car, the money, and you're going to be a dad. That's a pretty good few days.

SA: It's like a fairy tale, isn't it? --A.S.