Alternate making most of his opportunity
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- As a hopeful alternate, Kevin Chappell made the trip to TPC Sawgrass and put in a full early week of practice. By Wednesday afternoon, however, the 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie had left the course and was busy looking at flights and figuring out his upcoming schedule.
But a late withdrawal by Jeff Maggert put the California native in the Players. And now, Chappell has punched his own ticket to the weekend with a two-round total of 144 to make the cut on the number.
"I just had to change my mindset to "alright now I'm in. Not by luck, but by my play,'" Chappell said. "I just came out and gave it all I had. It's been a struggle on the greens, but making the cut is great and I can make a move on the weekend."
Chappell first found out the good news when he received a text informing him of his Thursday tee time. He then received a phone call from the tour confirming his status in the field and tweeted shortly after, "Thank you Jeff Maggert".
Following a solid 71 on Thursday and playing even-par golf through his first 13 holes on Friday, Chappell's week was nearly cut short by a double bogey on No. 5, where he three-putted from seven feet. He bounced back with a birdie on No. 7 before parring the last two holes.
"It's great," he said of having the opportunity to play the weekend. "I hope to be coming back here for another 15-20 years and to play as many rounds as you can, it's an advantage. I'll be more prepared when I come back next year."
A former star at UCLA, Chappell won the NCAA individual title in 2008. Last year, he finished ninth on the Nationwide Tour, thanks in large part to his first professional victory at the Fresh Express Classic.
Chappell has now made the cut in half of his 12 starts in 2011. He did, however, record a T-2 at the Valero Texas Open last month, but didn't make it to the weekend in the three tournaments before that or the two since until this week.
"I'm young and I'm learning, that's the best way I can explain it," he said of his inconsistency. "I think this was a big step in my career today. Obviously, finishing second in San Antonio was great, but there's more to the year than just that and hopefully I have something else to remember my year by."
-- Alex Myers
Follow on Twitter: [@AlexMyers3
(Photo: Darren Carroll/Getty Images)