Valero Texas Open 2017
Round 3 - Kevin Chappell takes over lead
April 23, 2017
Kevin Chappell found his swing late and moved a step closer to his first PGA Tour win.
Chappell birdied three of his final five holes and finished with a 1-under 71 on Saturday, giving him a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Valero Texas Open. He is 8-under through 54 holes. He was runnerup six years ago in the event and is ahead of first-round leader Branden Grace, who rallied with 2-under 70, and John Huh. After an eagle-birdie finish, Huh shot 71.
''It was about finding a rhythm,'' Chappell said. ''I knew when I found it, I could extend it. You can get it going on the finishing stretch.''
Ryan Palmer, a West Texas native who cut through winds as strong as 25 mph, had the round of the day with 4-under 68. He's joined at 6-under by second round co-leaders Bud Cauley (74) and Tony Finau (74), Sweden's Carl Pettersson (71), 2013 Texas Open champ Martin Laird (71), Kevin Tway (72) and Australian Cameron Smith (73).
Chappell tied for seventh with Rory McIlroy at the Masters this month, and he got his late charge going Saturday after leaving an eagle putt short at the par-5 14th. He tapped in to gain a stroke, and he made good two holes later with a 12-foot birdie. He chipped to two feet on the downwind, 318-yard 17th and had another tap-in birdie.
Chappell, 30, flirted with trouble on the 18th when his second shot rolled next to a brook, but he had enough room for a full swing and reached the green to set up a 2-putt par.
''I knew my game was in a good place,'' said Chappell, who took the week off after Augusta to celebrate the second birthday of his oldest son, Wyatt. ''I had played some really good rounds of golf.''
Grace lost his early tournament lead with a 2-over 73 in the second round. But the South African rallied Saturday and had a lead until a bogey at No. 15.
''It was pretty irritating out there,'' Grace said. ''Pars out there are good. Just have to be patient.''
Gusts that blew past 20 mph kept scores high - there were 14 scores below par Saturday. On Friday 49 rounds were under par, and 69 sub-par scores were recorded Thursday.
As notable as Palmer's round was in the windy conditions, it fits with the Texans' profile at this course. Since the tournament moved to TPC San Antonio's Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course seven years ago, Palmer's got three top-10 finishes including his best of a fourth-place tie last year.
''As hard as it was blowing today, and as exposed as this course can be, it made for a challenging day,'' he said. ''Fortunately, I've had success out here when it's blowing this way. I knew what to expect. I stayed patient and made a lot of putts.''
With the wind at his back, he drove the 318-yard 17th hole but was faced with a 93-foot eagle putt. He sank a 56-foot putt to birdie earlier at No. 6, so he 2-putted for the birdie at 17 and ran in another birdie at 18.
Palmer, originally from Amarillo, hasn't won since Hawaii in 2010.
''The bomb at No. 6 went in like it was a 2-footer,'' Palmer said. I felt like I could take it and run with it. You make a putt like that and it can get your momentum going.''
With these conditions, it didn't take long for the second-round leaders to back up. Cauley bogeyed the first hole, and his co-leader Finau parred until bogey at No. 7 and a double bogey on the next hole after he was chipping for birdie from right in front of the green.
Cauley later was penalized a stroke when he double-chipped at No. 12 - he hit the ball a second time on the follow through of his greenside chip. He putted from 13 feet to save bogey.
Round 2 - Bud Cauley & Tony Finau share halfway lead
April 22, 2017
Bud Cauley had to reach deep into his bag of tricks Friday to shoot a bogey-free 66 and seize a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Texas Open.
Cauley, who is seeking his first win on the US PGA Tour, missed eight of 18 greens but managed to scramble each time and make par.
He tallied six birdies and 12 pars in blustery conditions to finish in a tie with fellow American Tony Finau at eight-under 136 at the TPC San Antonio. Finau shot a seven-under 65.
"It was windy out there so it was tough," said Cauley. "I knew I was going to miss some greens. But I was able to leave it in the right spot most of the time and save some shots out there.
"It seems like every hole is almost straight down or straight in so you know what you are getting.
"You just have to try and par the holes that are into the wind."
This is Cauley's 108th start on the Tour without a win and his first career co-lead or outright lead after 36 holes.
He can take comfort in the fact that four of the last six 36 hole leaders have gone on to win the Texas Open.
Finau had a roller-coaster ride Friday with eight birdies, one eagle and three bogeys.
He made an excellent read on a downward sloping putt for birdie on the 10th hole and then got up and down from 83 yards for another birdie on the par-five 14th, the easiest hole of the tournament."
"Yesterday I got behind the eight ball pretty fast," said Finau of his opening 71. "Today I was able to get off to a better start and you need that on this golf course."
Cameron Smith (65), Bob Estes (69), Kevin Chappell (68) and Robby Shelton (69) were one stroke back of the leaders and tied for third at 137.
John Huh (71), Kevin Tway (68) and Jonathan Randolph (70) are another shot back at 138.
Seven players, including Jimmy Walker (69), Martin Laird of Scotland (67) and first-round leader Brendan Grace of South Africa -- are at 139, three shots behind the leaders.
Round 1 - Branden Grace leads by a shot
April 21, 2017
South African Branden Grace had a 6-under 66 and leads by a stroke after the opening round of the Valero Texas Open on Thursday.
Grace had a season-best 11th-place finish last week in defense of his RBC Heritage title. He leads the 5-under 67s of Steven Alker, Stewart Cink, John Huh and Will MacKenzie at TPC San Antonio. Alker, a journeyman New Zealander who played in the final group of the day, birdied the final three holes.
There are 13 players packed two shots back at 4 under. That includes 2010 U.S. Open champion Graham McDowell and 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup member Brooks Koepka.
Two weeks ago, Grace was over par but still survived the cut at the Masters. He played the weekend in 3 under, and his best scorecard last week at Hilton Head was 68. The 66 on Thursday was his best round since Hawaii in January.
''That's the one round I was waiting for,'' Grace said. ''I've been shooting the 69s and 70s, but not getting that one low round. This is nice.''
His day took off with three consecutive birdies mid-round, including a 22-foot putt at the ninth after missing his only fairway of the day.
It almost wasn't as nice for McDowell, who's won twice on the PGA Tour since his U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach seven years ago.
''I made bogey at 11 from the middle of the fairway, (and) I ripped it down the middle of the 12th fairway right in the middle of a divot and duffed it out short of the green and made bogey there,'' he said.
''To recover after that with a great birdie at 13 and a nice up-and-down at 14 for birdie, it was nice to bounce back.''
Ian Poulter needs to at least make the cut to keep his PGA Tour card for the remainder of the season. That's in doubt now - no birdies until his 17th hole and a 75 has him well outside the top 100. He's playing on a major medical exemption granted after a foot injury caused him to miss most of last season, and he needs to earn $30,624 before the exemption ends this week.
Patrick Reed, who was born in San Antonio and was runner-up here a year ago, is three shots out of the lead after a 69. Ryan Moore, Reed's Ryder Cup teammate and who tied for ninth at Augusta this month, is another shot back with a 70.
Defending champ Charley Hoffman, co-leader at the halfway point at the Masters, shot 71 and sits just outside the top 50.
U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck of Australia opened his first round as a pro with three bogeys, but he holed a bunker shot from 75 yards for eagle later in his round to help him to a 1-over 73.