Kevin Chappell has figured something out. Going into the Tour Championship, where he lost a playoff to Rory McIlroy, Chappell had made 18 of 26 cuts, compared to 17 of 26 a year earlier. But his earnings more than tripled, from $1.3 million in 2015 to $4.5 million in 2016."I found a formula that works for me," Chappell says. "I'm practicing less but smarter. My family is the most important thing to me." With better balance in his life, he says he's keeping his golf in perspective.The best player in collegiate golf in 2008, Chappell played on the Nationwide Tour and started working his way up the PGA Tour ladder. Then, early this year he had three second-place finishes—behind Kevin Kisner at the RSM Classic and then to Jason Day at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players. He ended the season by reaching the playoff at the Tour Championship.Working with his teacher of five years, Mark Blackburn, Chappell has learned to control his iron shots with a shorter action. Check it out frame-by-frame. "This swing really works in pressure situations," Chappell says, and he's starting to prove it.
"One of Kevin's key moves is his dynamic transition into the downswing. His lower body moves toward the target while his upper body stays stable." – Mark Blackburn
Even though Chappell's playing a lower shot here for control, he keeps the ball position forward. "When you move the ball back," says his teacher, Mark Blackburn, "you can hit it too much from the inside. Kevin controls trajectory by pivoting his body forward on the downswing."
WIDE OFF THE BALL
Chappell makes a wide move starting back, shifting into his right heel. "This loads the upper body over a stable lower body," Blackburn says. "The key is to have enough time to make the swing. People tend to get short and quick when they try to hit a knockdown."
After a late wrist hinge, Chappell keeps his arm swing abbreviated. "This ensures he can control the downswing pivot," Blackburn says. "His head is still centered between his feet, which encourages minimal upper-body tilt through impact. That keeps the ball flight down."
THE FORWARD PIVOT
"One of Kevin's key moves is his dynamic transition into the downswing. His lower body moves toward the target while his upper body stays stable," Blackburn says. He's pivoting forward without making a big slide or driving hard.
NO BIG DIG HERE
Being centered at impact guarantees that Chappell delivers the club without adding loft. "Kevin, like most great ball-strikers, delofts the club with a shallow angle of attack," Blackburn says. "This produces less spin, made possible by his level body motion."
LOW AND AROUND
In the finish, Chappell is loaded into his left leg with the club extended. "The abbreviated finish is the trademark of a low shot, where the club has moved down and around through impact without the wrists rehinging," Blackburn says. "This proves no loft was added."
"This swing really works in pressure situations, and he's starting to prove it."
– Mark Blackburn, Kevin Chappell's teacher