ORLANDO, Fla. – Kevin Chappell stood over a 21-foot par putt on the 18th green that would have gotten him into the clubhouse with the lead at Bay Hill. And then he heard a roar from the par-3 17th.
|“I guess Jason made birdie,” Chappell said, “and it was right before I putted … and I mean, being honest, it kind of had me rattled a little bit.”
From the second it left the putter face, Chappell’s slippery left-to-right putt never had a chance. He left it four and a half feet short.
“I hit such a poor first putt,” he conceded. Chappell tapped in for bogey, a round of 3-under 69, and what would turn out to be his fourth career runner-up finish in his 150th PGA Tour start and his second runner-up this season.
Two back to start the final round, Chappell got off to a hot start, making three birdies in his first eight holes to take the lead by two over Day. He again held the outright lead at 17 under when he stood on the 18th tee and pushed his drive into the right rough.
Once he saw the lie, he put the green immediately out of his mind, decided to lay up, and played for par.
“There was no option,” he said. “I don’t even think we got a number over it. The lie was so poor.
“I hit it like a 90-yard shot, and it was right in the middle of the fairway,” he said. “I actually had a pretty good number (105 yards) for my third and just couldn’t commit to what the wind was doing. … I went with a little kind of an off-speed 56 and I pulled it, but I had a look at par which is all you can ask for.”
But that look never scared the hole, and Chappell still had to roll in a near 5-footer just to save bogey. Once he did, he saluted the fans and ceded the stage to Day, who also missed the fairway to the right, but he was able to play into a greenside bunker and get up and down for par and the win.
“That’s why he’s been the No. 1 player in the world, and why I’m the 150th player in the world,” Chappell said, who is actually 129th and will soon be higher when the rankings are updated on Monday.
“You just can’t bogey the last when you’re in contention. Hats off to Jason. He played well, real clutch down the stretch, and I’ll learn from this and I’ll get better.”