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.

The RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

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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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”