the Memorial Tournament interview: Kevin ChappellJune 01, 2013
MORE INTERVIEWS: the Memorial Tournament transcripts
DOUG MILNE: Thanks for joining us for a few minutes, 4‑under 68 today, the low round of the day. A tough day out there.
That being said, some comments on the round and how you're feeling with one more round left to go.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I putted it nicely, which helped. I felt like if I could get on the green I had a chance. Took advantage of the par‑5s, with the exception of the 11th hole. And just really tried to stay patient. I knew it was going to be tough. If you missed a green you had to know where you wanted to miss it to give yourself a chance. Just stick to my game plan and go from there.
Q. What was the biggest challenge out there today?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Just trusting that the wind was where it was supposed to be. There was multiple times you're seeing the wind blow the flag the opposite way as it's supposed to be, just the way the wind is swirling down, just being able to trust that you're going to start the ball over the lake, and the wind is going to blow it, even though the flag is blowing the other way.
Q. Give us your best example of your worst nightmare with the wind?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: 14. It's 105‑yard wedge shot. The flag is blowing towards the water, but the wind is straight right‑to‑left, maybe a little in right‑to‑left. And where do I have to start this ball to hit it close? Charlie and Scott Piercy hit good wedge shots and the wind didn't touch it. I hit one and it made a left‑hand turn. It's tough to start that ball right of the flag.
Q. Why was the flag blowing to the right?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Your guess is as good as mine, Doug. I think there's a grandstand there, so I think it swirls. It hits that and then shoots it back the other way.
Q. And 11, probably a birdie at the 6. Did you hit driver?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I hit driver. Been hitting driver. Don't think you'll see me hit driver again if it blows like this. I haven't been drawing the ball that well off the tee. And you have to hold that fairway, you have to hit a shot that holds up into the wind. And I'm trying to start it down the hazard line, I start it down the middle of the fairway and it gets caught. I guess I got lucky it didn't go out of bounds the second time.
Q. How close?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I was ten yards. But the first one they said hit really hard and hopped over a fence. They couldn't have been too far from each other.
Q. The forecast today was pretty lousy since Slugger told us (inaudible.)
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah, the weather was fine for playing golf. It didn't feel like I was at harm out there.
Like last week, I heard some thunder while playing, but fortunate to get it in. We'll see if it even comes tonight, so we can play tomorrow.
Q. How much softer‑‑ I know you mentioned on radio, how much softer was it today than the first two days?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Probably three feet softer. I hit it‑‑ good example, I hit it over the back of the 9th green today. And I don't know if the first two days I could have kept my chip on the green, but I was able to get it up and down and hit it close. That's a good example.
Q. How do you explain having such a great day when so many of the great golfers had bad days or can you explain?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: We all work hard on our games. I think on days like today, you have to let yourself play well. You know you're going to get bad breaks, you know you're going to get good breaks. Just take advantage of some opportunities and staying really patient.
If you had told me I would shoot 4‑under par today on the first tee, I would have gladly gone and had a milkshake. I don't know if there's a formula for it or a reason, but we all work hard. And you hope that your work pays off.
Q. Do you consider yourself a good wind player?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Sure. I've had some success in wind and had some failure in wind. But overall I feel I have good ball control right now. I have a good game plan and it paid off.
Q. How fast are these greens playing, especially in light of the fact of the rain?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I don't know what they are on the Stimpmeter, but they're as fast as we've seen all year. Mixed with a lot of slope it makes an interesting experience.
Q. What's it like to have a good day in miserable conditions? Are you miserable and happy at the same time?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I kept saying, wow, this is tough out here. You hit a good shot and end up in a bad spot. What can I do?
On the 8th hole, I thought I hit a great 7‑iron in there, exactly how I wanted to, the right flight, and it doesn't even come close to getting on the green. It was 20 yards short of the hole. What can I do? So there's no‑‑ you've just got to keep doing it, put one foot in front of the other and finish each hole.
Q. Are you enjoying it even know it's not going where you want and you're not getting‑‑
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I mean, I guess it's like a prize fighter, he enjoys winning, but I don't know if he enjoys getting hit that much.
Q. As hard as you work in the off‑season, and then went through a pretty ugly stretch‑‑ missed a bunch of cuts in a row early in the season‑‑ was that hard to keep going, if you know what I mean?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: It was, but fortunately it was one area of the game. I didn't feel like I was searching in all areas. I hadn't putted that great all year and really feel like since The PLAYERS I putted it pretty good with the exception of Saturday and Sunday at The PLAYERS. And that's helped regain some momentum.
I think I made four cuts in a row now, it might be a personal record, I'm not sure. And making putts always helps. I put in a lot of hard work and gained some more ball control.
When I was struggling at the beginning of the year, it wasn't because of stuff I felt I improved on, it was stuff I neglected.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Ball can control is where I want to be. And the focus has been on the short game, and trying to ramp up things for the U.S. Open. I've had some success there and looking back on it, it's all about making the 5‑ and 7‑footers for par and to keep rounds moving. That's where the focus has been.
Q. That was my next question?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Last week I didn't miss a putt inside of five feet. That helps knowing that if I can chip this ball inside of five feet, I've got a good chance of getting up and down.
Q. Lastly, would you have been the Amateur when it was played at Merion?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I played in the U.S. Am at Merion.
Q. What did you think?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: '05, maybe.
Q. How did you do?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I lost in the round of 16 to a guy that played at Penn State.
Q. Foley?KEVIN CHAPPELL:
Q. What did you think?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I thought it was great. It's a small golf course in terms of space, but it's a golf course that you can score on. But if you get out of position, you're going to have some issues. And I don't remember that much.
The 18th hole is really hard.
And the 13, short par‑3, something we don't get to see, but the USGA has brought back the last few years. I don't think they have to change the setup to play that hole the way they would want to play it.
Q. As a player who's been on some big ballparks, do you see this as a bit of a gamble by the USGA to take it to a course like this, 6,900 yards, small piece of property?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I think it's a gamble in revenue. I don't think they can sell as many tickets as they can to bigger golf courses. But I think the USGA does a good job of assessing how they want the golf course to be played and setting it up that way. I'm sure it will be tricky and there will be some complaints. It is what it is, and you know that going into the U.S. Open. We all sign up for it, and you take the good with the bad.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Didn't they have the Walker Cup there a few years later? I'm sure there were changes they made during the Walker Cup from the U.S. Am, and I'm sure we will see different stuff.
Q. Can you look at a score and determine that it was a mistake or not? If someone goes 265, 267, where you can never come back here again, or you look at the quality of the tournament?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Do you think Rory thinks Congressional was a mistake?
Q. If I was guessing, I would say no.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: No, I don't think you can look at a score and say it's a mistake to host a golf tournament there. I'm sure it's an honor for Merion to host another USGA event, and it's an honor for me to go play in it.
Q. You're not in a qualifier Monday; you're exempt?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah, I'm exempt from last year's finish.
Q. What you said about the milkshakes, do you allow yourself one a day or do you have a limit?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I'm saving it for Sunday. I've had a few Buckeyes, though.
Q. Can you talk about your three birdies in a row there on 5, 6 and 7?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: 5, I hit 3‑wood off the tee and had 250 hole, but was trying to land it about 235. And I had about 230 to carry the hazard. I was going to hit 4‑iron, the wind kind of stopped, I pulled 3, and hit it right at the flag. I had 12 feet from above the hole for eagle and missed.
6, I hit a good drive, haven't hit that fairway all week. Finally got in the fairway. It was a tough wind, it was dead across. But again, was it really across or was it a little in? So you kind of use that backboard behind the hole. And that's still only a three‑yard gap and guessed right and hit it off that ridge and came back to about ten feet and knocked it in.
7, I hit a good drive, laid up, and wedged it to about ten feet short of the hole and knocked that in.
Q. When you were‑‑ when you were an amateur, you won the Jack Nicklaus award. At that time did he ever give you any advice?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: No, I just remember him talking about there was another gentleman that had won the Jack Nicklaus award from a different division. He kept talking about how big the guy was. He kept telling him make sure you hit it far, make sure you hit it far. That always stuck with me, maybe Jack knows where the game is going. Use size to your advantage. I sat in this room when I got that award, pretty cool.
Q. Is it cool to come back and be playing good where you won that award?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah, it's great to be back here. That got me a sponsor invite the following year. I didn't have much success that following year.
But I feel comfortable here. It's probably one of the events I've played the most on TOUR. It will be my fourth time. And it's‑‑ there's a comfort level with this place.
Q. Who was the guy, do you know?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I don't remember.
Q. Where do you think he is now?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Probably working at a 9:00 to 5:00 job.
Q. Jack didn't say anything to you that day?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Not that I recall. I was a little tired. We just won the national championship the night before and I had to drive from Purdue here to receive the award at maybe 8:00 a.m. I was a little drained, to say the least.
DOUG MILNE: Kevin, we appreciate your time. Best of luck tomorrow.