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.

Getty Images

Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 9:11 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.

He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.

Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.

“I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”

The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.


Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos


To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.

Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.

“If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said. 

“So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”  

To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.

Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”

Getty Images

Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 9:05 am

With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.

Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.

The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.

According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.

There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.

There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.

Getty Images

All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.


Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

“When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

“Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

Getty Images

First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

If only because of the atmosphere.

The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.


Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”