After six second-place finishes, rising into the 30 in the world and easily holding the mantle as the Best Player Without a PGA Tour Win, Kevin Chappell broke through for his first victory on Sunday at the Valero Texas Open — in his 180th-career start.
Chappell won in dramatic fashion over Brooks Koepka, who closed at TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course with a 7-under 65 to draw even on the final hole. The UCLA product got home in three on the finishing par 5, needing to make an 8-foot downhill putt to secure the win. The ball went in the left side of the hole, giving Chappell the win and the opportunity to release years of frustration of coming up just shy.
“A big relief,” said Chappell, who shot 68 in the final round to win on 12-under 276. “There’s been quite the monkey on my back for some time now about getting that first win. And to take that off and not have to answer those questions anymore is nice.”
Koepka, disappointed not to have won for the second time on the PGA Tour, was happy for Chappell.
“It’s hard to win out here — everybody knows that,” Koepka said. “I’m knocking on the door to get my second win. It’s nice for Kevin to get his first win. That’s pretty cool.”
Chappell was happy not to win by backing into it or earning the win because of someone else’s mistakes. It left a much better feeling this way.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Chappell. “Brooks kept me honest out there today. He made me had to do it the right way. There wasn’t any question I was going to make 4 (birdie) and win the golf tournament.”
After letting some chances get away to practically put the tournament out of reach, Chappell never freaked out — except when he heard the crowd make an odd noise after he hit his third shot into 18. When he and his caddie realized the ball was on the green and pretty close, they pair knew what to do.
“(Caddie) Joe [Greiner] kind of patted me on the butt and said, ‘You got a putt to win,'” Chappell recalled.
“I said, ‘We’ll knock it in.'”