By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Robert Garrigus and Kevin Chappell low Americans?
Who'd have figured that?
Certainly not Garrigus, who couldn't even conceive of someone telling him at the start of the week he'd finish 10 shots off the lead -- let alone tied for third and low American -- and shoot under par everyday day.
"If you had told me I was going to do that,'' he said, "I might have slapped you in the face. I just didn't understand the scores."
What he did understand? Walking off the 18th green.
"It gave me goosebumps for sure,'' he said. "That was one of the things I will never forget. Besides it being Father's Day and to have my son there afterwards and everything, this is a pretty special day. And to make that putt, I get into Augusta, that's probably one of the coolest things I'll ever get to say is I am playing at Augusta next year."
Chappell might agree.
For those of you who don't know, Chappell is a 24-year-old UCLA grad and PGA TOUR rookie. He's the one who closed with a 66 and wasn't sure what this would mean. Garrigus is the 33-year-old who hits it a mile and putts with a tiny -- think junior club -- putter. He closed with a 70.
"Being low American, that's great,'' said Chappell, whose finish, coupled with a tie for second at the Valero Texas Open, ensures him his 2012 TOUR card. "I don't think the state of American golf is where everyone expects it to be, but I think it shows that someone like myself can play out here, and I think it's definitely going to end up going in the right direction here sometime soon.
Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III led the next low All-American group (Heath Slocum, Brandt Snedeker) at 3 under in a tie for 11th. The 47-year-old Love struggled with his putter all week and bristled a bit at the notion that American golf was struggling.
"Really I guess a little bit of an exception with Lee Westwood, but most of them are guys that are over here playing a lot, week in and week out,'' Love said. "Rory (McIlroy) I guess we've seen him a lot in the last year. Everything goes in streaks, you know. We might be talking about how four Americans win the next four.
"We don't look at it that I way, we're just playing the golf course. We don't play nationalities, we're playing golf and trying to win. If it's Kevin Chappell that shoots 17‑under or Rory, it doesn't make any difference to me, I got whipped."