Chappell leads Kisner, Jacobson by one at Sea Island

By Doug FergusonNovember 20, 2015, 8:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Sea Island seems to be a good fit for California native Kevin Chappell.

It didn't work so well for the 21-year-old son of Davis Love III, who grew up in the Golden Isles and missed the cut in his PGA Tour debut.

Chappell had no trouble in a steady wind Friday, holing a 35-foot birdie putt early and holing a 45-yard bunker shot for eagle late in his round of 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course that gave him a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Winless in five-plus years and 143 starts on the PGA Tour, the 29-year-old Chappell gave himself another chance in a tournament where he seems to thrive. He was in the final group going into the weekend at Sea Island in 2013, and was four shots behind at the halfway point last year.

''I think this is the third year in a row I've been near the last group on the weekend,'' he said. ''For me, the sight lines work. The wind tends to blow out of one direction. There are a lot of things that are comforting to me and allow me to play well.''

Chappell was at 11-under 131, one shot clear of Freddie Jacobson, who had a 5-under 67 on the Plantation Course, and Kevin Kisner, who had a 67 at Seaside.


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Kisner still hasn't won a PGA Tour event, either, though he gets one more chance in the final PGA Tour event of the year. Kisner already has lost in three playoffs this year, and he picked up a fourth runner-up finish two weeks ago in Shanghai at the HSBC Champions.

He feels he is getting closer than ever.

''In China I told my coach and my caddie it was the first time it was all golf and no nerves,'' Kisner said. ''That's when you know you've done your job.

Kyle Stanley had a 67 at Seaside and was two shots behind. Graeme McDowell, coming off a victory Monday in Mexico, had a 68 at Plantation and was four behind.

Dru Love looked like he would make it to the weekend when he was 3 under for the tournament with only seven holes to play. The junior at Alabama wasn't even thinking about the cut line, instead trying to pick up more birdies that would move him closer to the lead. He wound up going the wrong direction.

Love played the final seven holes at Plantation in 7 over, closing with a pair of double bogeys for a 42 on the front nine and a 76 to miss the cut.

''Never crossed my mind just thinking about making the cut,'' he said. ''I think I had more pressure just trying to push forward a little bit. Pushed a little too hard and tried to bomb a drive and made bogey, and just kind of started a downward spiral. Just got to try to stay in the moment a little bit more and quit worrying about the score so much.''

Davis Love III, the tournament host, looked as if he might have more time on his hands the final two rounds with a double bogey at No. 13, his fourth hole. He recovered with a pair of birdies on the par 5s, two more birdies on the front nine and a 70 at Plantation that allowed him to make the cut on the number at 2-under 140.

It was bittersweet to his son pack his bags.

''Today I wish I was caddying,'' Love said. ''I was tempted to do something to disrupt him, because he pulled 2-iron on 3 and it was too much club. He tried to hit a little dinky 2-iron in there and he pulled it over the green in a bad place. If he had hit 4-iron there and hit the middle of the green and got out of there, I think he would have been fine. But he bogeyed there, got mad, swung really hard at the next one trying knock it on in two and made another bogey.

''He's going to be really disappointed for a while,'' the father said. ''He's embarrassed because he knows he can make the cut and play well enough.''

Chappell has played well enough to contend at Sea Island. The next trick is to finish.

The UCLA alum started to stall with a long three-putt bogey on the 12th, and a long wait at the tee on the par-5 15th. His 3-wood missed left into a bunker, leaving a tough shot to a pin at the back on a shelf. Chappell went with a pitching wedge to get it all the way back, and it worked out better than he could imagine.

''I told myself, 'Hit it a little harder than you want,' especially knowing that if it goes over the back of the green it's shaved and you can putt up the hill,'' Chappell said. ''Probably easier than leaving it short and putting it into the wind. Came out perfect.''

DIVOTS: Only four players from the top 20 on the leaderboard already are eligible for the Masters. The winner gets an invitation. The six previous winners during the fall portion of the PGA Tour season were not previously eligible for Augusta National until they won. ... Because 87 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut Saturday.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.