Clovis News

Ex-Buchanan star Chappell ties for 3rd at U.S. Open

It's taken Kevin Chappell a while to return to the golfing spotlight.

But the former Buchanan High star finally is back and might be the best American golfer right now.

Chappell shot a round-best, 5-under 66 on Sunday during the final day of the U.S. Open to finish tied for third in Bethesda, Md.

Chappell, 24, shot 6-under 278 for the tournament, with his last three rounds of 67, 69 and 66 the best in the entire field. It also made up for Chappell's disastrous first round when he shot a 76.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland won the event at 16-under 268 (65-66-68-69). Australian Jason Day finished runner-up at 8-under 276 (71-72-65-68).

This is Chappell's first year on the PGA Tour. He had to go through a sectional qualifying tournament two weeks ago just to be in the Open field.

Chappell also automatically qualified for next year's Masters by finishing in the top eight at the U.S. Open.

"There's a lot to soak in," said Chappell, whose best career finish on the PGA Tour is a second place at this year's Texas Open. "Hopefully lock up my card for next year, which is also a big relief, and just really try and enjoy it. I played some really good golf the last three rounds, and I really do need to enjoy it."

Chappell hasn't enjoyed this much success since leading UCLA to an NCAA title in 2008 and winning the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top college player.

His transition to the pro circuit was more of a challenge. Chappell started his first full season as a pro with no status on the Nationwide Tour, and missed qualifying his first nine times.

Coming into the U.S. Open, Chappell had missed the cut in eight of his 15 tour events.

But Chappell finished as the top American at the U.S. Open, tied with Robert Garrigus of Scottsdale, Ariz., who also shot 6-under 278 (70-70-68-70).

An American has not won the past five majors.

"I don't think the state of American golf is where everyone expects it to be," Chappell said. "But I think it shows that someone like myself can play out here, and I think it's definitely going to end up going in the right direction sometime soon."

Not that Chappell is obscure or anything, but the USGA misspelled his name on his Sunday quote sheet. Twice. It was recorded as "Chapel."

What should America know about him?

"I'm just someone that likes to have some fun," he replied. "I really enjoy my downtime."

And what does he do during his downtime?

"Nothing," he replied with a grin. "Nothing better than a good movie, a beer, hanging out with your loved ones."