For Kevin Chappell, who had finished runner-up six times without winning, victory at the Valero Texas Open put him in a different place on the PGA Tour.
Its meaning was summed up in Chappell’s emotional reaction on the 18th hole. Normally a fairly stoic character on the course, Chappell let go when his winning 6-foot birdie putt tumbled into the hole.
“I’m just excited I don’t have to answer that question of what I have to do to win again,” Chappell said. “A lot of joy now.”
Chappell took a one-stroke lead into the final round and had several players make a run at him. Tony Finau streaked into contention with four birdies on the back but his chances stalled when, needing at least a closing birdie, he hit his tee shot into a cactus at the par-5 18th, leading to a bogey.
Brooks Koepka charged into contention with a closing 65, making a birdie at the 18th hole to pull into a tie with Chappell, who was playing behind him.
Reading the green from 88 yards away?
Good idea. @BKoepka birdies the 72nd hole!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 23, 2017
Chappell had led by two strokes until giving one back with a bogey at No. 15. Needing a birdie at the 18th, Chappell hit an 88-yard wedge shot to within 6 feet of the hole, setting up the winning putt.
“I was calm. I never freaked out. Playing the last (hole) was simple. Make 4 and you win the golf tournament,” Chappell said.
Two weeks ago, Chappell had finished T7 at The Masters, his first top-40 finish this season. In his 180th career start, Chappell finally got his elusive first win.
“Hopefully this is a platform to jump off and get myself in the conversations to make the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup,” Chappell said.