April 30, 2018
Catching Up With Kevin Chappell–Faces of the NCGA
By Gary McCormick
Kevin Chappell first gained national attention in 2008 when, while at UCLA, he won the 2008 Arnold Palmer Award for winning the national championship and the Jack Nicklaus Award for being collegiate player of the year.
Just a year later, having turned pro, the Fresno native made waves by finishing sixth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in just his third PGA Tour start. In 2011, the now 31-year-old qualified for the U.S. Open, marking his first appearance in a major. He’d card a final round 66 to finish T-3, earning spots in the 2012 U.S. Open and Masters.
After 180 starts, Chappell notched his first Tour victory at the 2017 Valero Open. That success has carried through to the 2018 season. In his first nine starts, he’d only missed the cut once. Recently, NCGA Golf caught up with Chappell.
Q: How did your days of playing Northern California amateur events like the Fresno City help prepare you for your professional career?
KC: “Basically anytime you play tournament golf you learn something about your self, you learn something about tournament golf. The more tournaments you can play, I think is an advantage for anyone.”
Q: You finished sixth at the 2009 AT&T Pro-Am early in your pro career. How much of a boost was that to get such a good finish so early in your pro career?
KC: “It was massive for me, not only in confidence but financially. It allowed me to go chasing Monday qualifiers out here; I ended up getting status on the Web.com (Tour) through those Monday qualifiers, and the next year I parlayed that into a Tour card. ”
Q: Last year you won at the Valero Texas Open. What’s your best memory of that win, your first on the PGA Tour?
KC: “Just getting to share it with my family, including my caddy, Joe. There’s been a lot of hard work put into that, not only by me, but my team, and to get to enjoy that with them was something I’ll never forget.”
Q: In addition to your Children’s Oncology Endowment, you’re a big supporter of the Special Olympics. Any particular reason why or is just your way of giving back?
KC: “My godmother, who is a very close friend of mine, has been a Special Education teacher at Hoover High in Fresno for 30 some-odd years. When I was young my parents would send me with her to her summer camps with some of her students. I became friends with some of these young adults, kids that were involved in Special Olympics, and that’s a place that’s always dear to my heart.”