Kevin Chappell's education in winning, LPGA caddie travails and the Koepka brothers head to New Orleans
I Think ...
Kevin Chappell going 1-for-180 with six runner-up finishes and three third-place finishes speaks more to the level of competition on the PGA Tour than it does Chappell’s inability to close. Prior to Sunday’s breakthrough win at the Valero Texas Open, Chappell had lost twice to Rory McIlroy (2011 U.S. Open, 2016 Tour Championship), twice to Jason Day (2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship) and was third to Dustin Johnson (2016 WGC-Bridgestone), all in quality events. Asked what he took from all the close calls against top-five players, the 30-year-old Chappell told me last month, “A little bit of everything. It was encouraging because it took me to places I’ve never been before. Discouraging because I was not doing what I want to win golf tournaments. And exhausting. With failure comes the drive to want to do more, and you only have so much energy to pull on. But I wouldn’t change anything. I feel like I’ll be better as a result of it.”
I Saw …
Lydia Ko’s caddie for this week’s LPGA Volunteers of America Texas Shootout is going to be Englishman Pete Godfrey. Why this is interesting is not because this is Ko’s 10th caddie since the start of her rookie season in 2014; it’s because Godfrey was on Ariya Jutanugarn’s bag when she won the Women’s British Open last summer at Woburn. That job lasted only until the end of the 2016 season, when Jutanugarn finished as winner of the $1 million CME Race to the Globe bonus and LPGA Player of the Year. Last month, Jutanugarn went back to Les Luark, who left Jutanugarn after the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. So you think Ko has a problem maintaining relationships with caddies? She is hardy alone.
I Heard …
Brooks Koepka and his younger brother, Chase, are going to be partners in this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The idea was pitched by Brooks, whose agent took it to tournament organizers. They liked the story and granted an unrestricted exemption to get Chase into a PGA Tour field as a non-member. Playing the European Tour’s Challenge circuit after an All-America career at the University of South Florida, Chase gets a two-year PGA Tour exemption should Team Koepka win at TPC Louisiana. While the brothers don’t play together, they do practice together at The Medalist, The Floridian and Bear Lakes. “It’ll be fun,” says Chase. What will be fun is comparing their playing styles, with Chase earning his reputation as a precision player while Brooks, who finished second to Kevin Chappell in the Valero Texas Open, is known more for his power game. “I can only gain experience from it,” says Chase, who more realistically hopes to earn enough to secure a spot into the Web.com Finals.