PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Jeff Maggert withdrew from THE PLAYERS Championship on Wednesday afternoon, citing "family matters."
He was replaced in the field by Kevin Chappell, the first alternate. “Thank you Jeff Maggert” Chappell tweeted at 3:29 p.m. ET.
Chappell, a rookie from Fresno, Calif., finished tied for second at the Valero Texas Open earlier this year and currently ranks 76th on the FedExCup points list.
Chappell will replace Maggert in the 9:11 a.m. tee time slot on Thursday off No. 1, and will play with Nick O'Hern and Tommy Gainey.
FEDEXCUP: Complete Standings | Weekly Leaders | FedExCup 101 | More FedExCup notesBy Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM Editorial Coordinator It's not easy being No. 1. Or trying to repeat as a No. 1 for that matter. Ernie Els, who led the FedExCup race for the majority of last season and took the No. 1 ranking into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup checks in this week at 85th in the standings. In the previous four years of the FedExCup competiton, Els had only been outside the top 50 after 10 weeks just once. As we enter week 16, Els has spent the last dozen weeks outside the top 50. Things have only been slightly better for defending FedExCup champion Jim Furyk, who currently sits at No. 51 in the standings. Furyk opened the year with a top-10 finish at Kapalua but has just one since. Struggles haven't been limited to just Furyk and Els, though. Of last year's final top 10, just one (Luke Donald) currently cracks the top 10 in the standings. THERE’S GOOD NEWS: Harbour Town Golf Links, site of The Heritage, is a good venue for the two former No. 1s. Furyk won this event last year while Els has seven top-10 finishes in 11 starts at The Heritage. It would not be surprising either or both players started an upward trend this week. BEST NEW ARRIVAL: Rich Beem made his first cut of 2011 and finished tied for 15th in Texas to make his debut in the standings at No. 184. Beem, who won the PGA Championship in 2002, had missed nine consecutive cuts dating back to last October. BIGGEST MOVERS: TOUR rookie Kevin Chappell had made four cuts in eight starts prior to last week’s Valero Texas Open, but never finished higher than a tie for 42nd. His tie for second in Texas, however, vaulted him 117 spots from 180th to 63rd. Champion Brendan Steele moved up 96 spots (from 115th to 96th) while Cameron Tringale (T5) made a 55-spot jump from 146th to 91st. NOTABLE DROPS: Seven players dropped out of the top 125 in the standings last week, but five of them -- Richard S. Johnson, Boo Weekley, Lucas Glover, Heath Slocum and Chris DiMarco -- have an opportunity to move back up this week at The Heritage. MORE ON LAST WEEK’S WINNER: Brendan Steele’s first career top-10 finish on TOUR was a victory at the Valero Texas Open which allowed him to move to No. 19 in the FedExCup standings and from No. 231 to No. 132 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Steele, who is currently 105th on TOUR in putting average, tied for the second fewest putts in the field at TPC San Antonio. He was seventh in driving accuracy and 10th in driving average en route to his victory.
Kevin Chappell had perhaps the best explanation as to why he, and eventual winner Brendan Steele and the third member of his group Sunday, Cameron Tringale, didn’t seem all that bothered by the pressure of trying to win on the PGA TOUR for the first time.
“Good golf travels and it doesn't matter whether you're playing the mini tour or Nationwide Tour or PGA TOUR,” Chappell said. “If you're playing good golf you're going to continue to play good golf.
“To be honest, I don't think who's out there. It's me versus this week the Valero Texas Open golf course out here and that's -- that was my opponent this week. I felt like I fared pretty well with the conditions and so for me that's my attitude and it's been working at whatever level I'm at.”
It certainly worked well this week. Chappell recorded the best finish of his career with a tie for second after a final-round 2-under 70.
It also helped to be playing with a couple of guys in Steele and Tringale who he could relate to.
“It's nice to have someone in a group going through the same thing you're going through,” Chappell said. “It was very a comfortable pairing for me.”
Kevin Chappell’s first bogey of the day came at an inopportune time Sunday.
Tied for the lead with Brendan Steele with two holes to play, the former UCLA standout missed the green on his approach to the par-4 17th then failed to get up-and-down to save par.
The bogey drops Chappell to 7 under and one shot back of Brendan Steele, who made par on the hole. Steele is now in position to get his first career win on the PGA TOUR.
Two players, two holes to go. Brendan Steele and Kevin Chappell are still tied atop the leaderboard at 8 under as the final round winds down.
With both players two shots clear of the rest of the field, and the par-5 18th hole playing as one of the easiest holes on the golf course all week, it appears one of them will get their first career win here this week.
Steele birdied Nos. 17 and 18 in the third round and collectively he’s played those holes in 2 under with three birdies and just one bogey.
Chappell, on the other hand, is a combined 4 under on those two holes with two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 18th in the opening round.
There’s finally some separation at the top of the leaderboard, but there are also any number of players who can still win.
Brendan Steele and Kevin Chappell share the lead at 8 under and both are seeking their first win on the PGA TOUR. Will they hold up over the last six holes? So far they’ve acquitted themselves well with neither player making a bogey today.
Four other players, meanwhile, are within three strokes. Among them are Charley Hoffman and Pat Perez.
Can anyone catch Brendan Steele? He still leads by one but has plenty of company. Here’s a closer look at some of his contenders:
As a rookie in 2010, Tringale only made five of 22 cuts on TOUR. So far this season, he has made eight of 11 cuts.
Tringale was tied for the first-round lead at the 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open -- his only lead on TOUR after any round.
Tringale made the clinching putt to help the U.S. win the 2009 Walker Cup.
Chappell is playing in his 16 th event on TOUR, making the cut in seven of those starts.
Chappell won the 2008 NCAA Championship, leading his UCLA Bruins to the team title along the way. Chappell was the only player in the field to shoot under-par (2 under).
Coming into this week, Snedeker had only made four of nine cuts, but he has finished inside the top 25 each of the four and in the top 10 three times.
This is also Snedeker’s first career start at the Valero Texas Open.
The top three names on the leaderboard entering today’s final round have all of 62 combined starts on the PGA TOUR.
Charles Howell III and Pat Perez, both of whom are tied for fifth, have 83 combined top-10s.
In other words, it’s youth vs. experience at TPC San Antonio, where Brendan Steele leads at 7 under and Cameron Tringale and Kevin Chappell are one and two shots back, respectively.
The good news for that trio is that players in their 20s have won three of the last four events and four of the last six. The last player in his 30s to win? Rory Sabbatini at The Honda Classic.
Tringale (23) and Chappell (24) would be the youngest players to win on TOUR since Jason Day (22) won the HP Byron Nelson Championship last May.
And if rookies Chappell or Steele go on to victory it would mark the first time rookies have won back-to-back events on TOUR since 2002 when Jonathan Byrd won the Buick Challenge and Luke Donald won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
Brandt Snedeker, Pat Perez, Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman and Rich Beem have all won on the PGA TOUR. Brendan Steele, Cameron Tringale and Kevin Chappell haven’t.
That’s the separation at the top of the leaderboard at TPC San Antonio, where Steele is in front by one at 7 under after a 68 Saturday.
The biggest difference between the second and third rounds was the wind. Friday it blew, Saturday, for the most part, it didn’t. That allowed for some good scoring, though it’s still somewhat crowded with eight players within four shots of Steele’s lead.
That of course includes the defending champion Scott, who is on a run of three straight finishes in the top 6, which includes of course his tie for second at the Masters last week.
So what will happen on Sunday?
The wind is expected to blow in the 25-mph range. That could mean more high scores -- and an advantage to Scott, an Aussie who of course is used to playing in the wind. Stay tuned.
The leaderboard remains crowded at TPC San Antonio, where three players now share the lead at 4 under.
One of the three, Kevin Chappell, has a pretty good pedigree that he’s trying to live up to. At UCLA, Chappell led the Bruins to the 2008 NCAA title. He also won the individual title and received the 2008 Jack Nicklaus Award as the top male collegiate player -- the first UCLA player to do so since Duffy Waldorf in 1985.
Last year on the Nationwide Tour, Chappell had 24 starts and recorded seven top-10s, which included a win a second and a third as he ended the year ninth on the money list to earn his PGA TOUR card for this year.
His rookie year on TOUR hasn’t gone as well, however. Chappell has missed his last three cuts and his best finish was a tie for 42nd in Hawaii.
Obviously that could change this week. One big reason it could: Chappell’s putting. He leads the field in putting so far.