The wrap around PGA Tour season affords the opportunity for journeyman players to earn their card early. Winning quickly will help reduce the pressures of grinding when the top players in the January.
For example, before Jimmy Walker won 3 of the first 8 events in 2014, he was a journeyman player. He played 13 years without a win or even being close until 2014. Since, he has established himself as one of the top US players fresh off a Ryder Cup win! His fortunes changed after a quick start and has won every year since 2014. Is it possible that some other player will meet the same fate as Jimmy Walker? If so, who?
The top 25 names on the world ranking are very familiar. They slide up and down the list, but the core group remains the same. There is one player just outside this elite list who might be the player to watch this year.
Kevin Chappell is a 9 year pro who has yet to win on Tour. Ranked 27th in the world, Chappell earned 4 – 2nd place finishes in 2016 and appears to be ready to breakout. At this time, I would consider him a journeyman player because he has played an average of 28 tournaments a year with varying success. Compared to top players like Phil Mickelson, 21 rounds, and Rory McIlroy, less than 20, Chappell really works at playing golf.
In the 2016 season, Chappell finished in the top 10 around 27% of the time. Basically 1 in 3 times he was competitive. His efforts are starting to pay off, but without a win, he a player standing at the edge of being a great golfer. It is time for Chappell to step up and claim his own destiny. I realize it is difficult to win on the PGA Tour, however, early in the season is the time for Chappell to make his move. If he wins a tournament or two, he would be considered the next break out player.
Is it possible that Kevin Chappell could be the next Jimmy Walker? Absolutely! Kevin Chappell has the game to play at the top-level of golf; whether he stays there is a different story. Lately around the tour, there were many first time winners and it is Chappell’s time to join that group. To do so, he needs to take advantage of the top players taking a break until after Christmas by playing early and often in 2017.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!