Kevin Chappell can scratch his name off the winless list on the US PGA Tour after breaking through on his 180th start, beating Brooks Koepka with a 72nd-hole birdie at the Valero Texas Open.
Chappell led by a stroke entering the final round at TPC San Antonio, one of the more difficult non-Major stops on the circuit, and parried the challenges of Koepka, Tony Finau and Kevin Tway to shoot a closing 68 for a one-stroke edge.
Koepka had the best chance at victory among the pursuers but missed short birdie putts at the 14th and 17th holes that prolonged his two-year title drought on the US Tour.
Chappell, ranked No.41 in the world entering this week, came into the event off a tie for seventh at the Masters. A perennial place-getter – and often in big events (runner-up at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship, T-3 at the WGC–Bridgestone Invitational, T-2 at the Tour Championship) – Chappell finally has some silverware to show for his efforts.
Aaron Baddeley finished as the leading Australian at eight-under, four shots behind Chappell in fifth place, his best finish since his Barbasol Championship victory last July. Queensland’s Cameron Smith led the Texas Open for much of Saturday’s third round before sharing sixth at seven-under.
* Bernd Wiesberger claimed his fourth European Tour title at his 200th start with a playoff victory over Tommy Fleetwood at the Shenzhen International in China.
The towering Austrian led by three strokes overnight at Genzon Golf Club only to see the Englishman pile on seven birdies and an eagle in a closing 63 to set the clubhouse mark at 16-under. Wiesberger plodded along for much of the final round, carding 11 straight pars to finish off his one-under 71, before hitting a peerless approach shot to the 18th green in the playoff then holing the five-foot birdie putt for the title.
“I’m feeling a bit relieved now, I have to say,” Wiesberger said. “I’ve had a stretch of really good events the past couple of months and it’s really nice to have a trophy again.
“We have really good players out here, all up for it, playing well and throwing a lot at me. At the end of the day I’m just glad I got myself into the spot where I could play for the title.”
Others to flirt with victory included England’s Ross Fisher, American David Lipsky and South African George Coetzee. Fisher three-putted the last green to fall a shot short of the playoff, Lipsky couldn’t muster a tieing birdie over the closing holes, while Coetzee imploded more graphically. He birdied the 16th and 17th holes to tie the lead before running up a quadruple-bogey on the last hole after two trips to the water – his third score of double-bogey or worse for the week.
Brett Rumford, in a tie for 14th, was the leading Australian in China.
* Australia’s Hannah Green has notched her first Symetra Tour title. The 20-year-old from Perth birdied the final hole of the $US110,000 Sara Bay Classic in Florida for a two-stroke victory over Princess Superal and the secondary circuit’s prizemoney leader Benyapa Niphatsophon. Green was the only player to complete the 54-hole event under par.
Green, who turned pro last October, now moves deep inside the top-10 on the Symetra Tour moneylist, where the top players graduate to the LPGA Tour for 2018.