ATLANTA -- Kevin Chappell can make Davis Love III's decision extremely easy on Sunday. Or deliver a wave of controversy.
Thanks to a bogey-free third round of 68 -- along with Dustin Johnson's back-nine stumbles -- Chappell shares the Tour Championship lead heading into Sunday. The 30 year old has put together a career season in 2016, highlighted by three runner-up finishes, a T-3 and a T-4. Those silver medals came to Jason Day (twice, at Bay Hill and Sawgrass) and Dustin Johnson (Akron), elevating the grade of each performance. Few strike the ball better on tour, a trait evidenced at East Lake this week, as he paces the field in greens in regulation. Throw in seven top 10s on the year, Chappell seems like a viable candidate for the final U.S. Ryder Cup spot; a Tour Championship title ostensibly punches his ticket.
One problem: according to Chappell, he isn't in the running.
"You guys probably had more conversations with Davis Love III than I have," Chappell said on Friday. "Because of that, it's not -- I'd love to be on the team. I'd love to have the opportunity. But just due to the lack of communication, I've kind of put it out of the back of my mind."
That Chappell wasn't part of the contingent to play with the U.S. team on Monday supports this claim. Which is a shame. You could make the case that Chappell has played just as well -- if not better -- than Rickie Fowler and J.B. Holmes, two of Love's first three captain selections. Ditto against Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Daniel Berger, the aforementioned players that were at Hazeltine this week. And if Chappell does win but fails to make the club, one has to wonder what the point of this new final pick is all about.
As Davis Love III pointed out, his selection is not predicated off Tour Championship play; he went as far as mentioning the last player may not be in the field. Yet, the idea behind the so-called "Billy Horschel rule" is to bestow the captain the proverbial "hot hand" for his squad. If not Chappell -- or Ryan Moore, another player making an 11th hour push -- the inherent selection premise is for naught.
In Love's defense, he didn't ask for this format. The belated final selection is a byproduct of the PGA of America, and the theatrics of announcing the pick during NBC Sunday night football wasn't his call.
Conversely, he shouldn't be looking at this process as a burden. Frankly, the U.S. could use a hot hand: three U.S. Ryder Cup players failed to qualify for the Tour Championship, and those at East Lake aren't lighting the world on fire. Moreover, if Chappell would falter at Hazeltine, his selection wouldn't be overly criticized; Love was simply adhering to the Horschel rule.
With a strong round on Sunday, Chappell will cement himself as Ryder Cup worthy. Whether he makes the team is beyond the point.