Saturday, April 22, 2017

Texas Open leader Chappell chasing first US Tour victory

  • Kevin Chappell had a rough start to his day, but he heads into Sunday with the lead. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Kevin Chappell had a rough start to his day, but he heads into Sunday with the lead. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
  • By Mike McAllister, US PGATOUR.COM                                
    SAN ANTONIO, Texas – News and notes from Saturday’s third round of the Valero Texas Open, with Kevin Chappell leading by one stroke going into the final round at TPC San Antonio.
    Click here for the Daily Wrap-up.


    If Kevin (69-68-71 for 208) converts the first solo 54-hole lead of his US PGA TOUR career into his first win, he’ll likely consider his back-nine performance Saturday as the turning point of the week. Maybe even his career.
    Having endured a rollercoaster front nine that included one double bogey, three bogeys, three birdies (and two provisional shots, neither one he actually used), Chappell could have easily let the round get away from him.
    Tough, windy conditions, unseasonably cool temperatures, a couple of unlucky breaks – early-career Chappell would have checked out.
    But we saw the more mature Chappell on the back nine, one who doesn’t give in, who finds the positives and builds on them. He steadied the ship with four pars after the turn, then birdied three of the last five holes to salvage a one-under 71.
    “It says something about me and the growth that I’ve made,” the 30-year-old Chappell said. “For the fans that have followed me, that round could’ve been 78 and I’m teeing off first off the back nine tomorrow…
    “I feel like I’ve made some strides mentally and physically. I was able to find something I could compete with. It’s probably the most proud I’ve been of myself in a round of golf in a long time.”
    The next stride, of course, will be to win. Chappell knocked on the door frequently last season – three second-place finishes, including a playoff loss at the TOUR Championship. He was also the runner-up here in 2011, and tied for fourth last year. In his last start, Chappell tied for seventh at the Masters.
    Making the 180th start of his TOUR career, Chappell is hoping those collection of experiences will pay off in a positive manner Sunday.

    “It’s going to be about staying in the moment, executive my game plan,” Chappell said, “and hopefully walking up 18, it’s my time.”


    Ryan Palmer is making the 53rd start of his US PGA TOUR career in his native Texas. He has 10 top-10 finishes – including a tie for sixth and a tie for fourth in his last two appearances at TPC San Antonio. He contended at his home course, Colonial, last year and lost in a playoff in 2011 in Dallas.
    On Saturday, Palmer shot the low round of the day – a four-under 68. It was one of just two rounds in the 60s (Camilo Villegas shot a 3-under 69). Palmer’s big move puts him in a seven-way tie for fourth, two strokes off the lead. It’s yet another opportunity.
    So, is he due to win a Texas event … or is he overdue?
    “I don’t want to say I’m due for anything out here,” laughed Palmer, who played collegiately at Texas AandM.
     “I’ve been close a lot of times here, Colonial, play-off at Nelson. I think this one, I feel like I can win this one each year I come here.”
    After five missed cuts in his first seven starts of the season, Palmer is showing better form now, thanks to some improved putting. He added some loft to his putter and it has delivered better performances on the greens. He called last week’s effort at the RBC Heritage (a tie for 11th) one of the best putting weeks in recent memory.
    Maybe the timing is perfect. His longtime caddie, James Edmondson -- also a native Texan -- is hoping Sunday will be a Lone Star day.
    “Ryan was born and raised in Texas,” Edmondson said. “You’d think it’d be in the cards to win in his home state. It’s a dream come true for any kid growing up in Texas to win here.”
    Said Palmer: “We’re going to bring it tomorrow and kind of see what happens.”

    PAR 5 OR PAR 6?

    The par 5s at TPC San Antonio are annually the toughest on the US PGA TOUR. On Saturday, playing into the wind, the 591-yard 18th bared its teeth.
    Of the 76 players, just 15 made birdie. Compare that to 12 bogeys, three doubles and three others, resulting in a stroke average of 5.171. That tied for the ninth most-difficult hole on the course. It was even tougher than the 604-yard eighth, which played to a stroke average of 5.158.]
    “Kind of playing like a par 6 today,” said Martin Laird, who had one of those birdies after hitting driver, 3-iron, 7-iron to 2-1/2 feet.
    Laird has had rounds of 72, 67 and 71 for 210 and is in T4 position, two behind leader Chappell.
    Carl Pettersson also had a birdie after hitting driver, 4-iron, 6-iron to 4 feet. Branden Grace parred the hole after hitting driver, 3-iron, 5-iron.
    “Not an easy hole at all today,” Grace said.
    The hole had played under par in each of the first two rounds, but a Saturday morning cold front shifted the winds into the players’ faces. The same direction is forecast for the final round.
    “I said to my caddie, ‘Kind of fun playing out there today in the wind like that,’ “ the Glasgow-born Laird said. “I’m just going to go out tomorrow and continue to enjoy playing the course and have fun and see what happens.”







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