Teeing Off: Chappell’s highs, Poulter’s lows, and Major outlook

Hello friends, Sam Nowicki here. Welcome to my final column of the school year. Also, major props to anyone who caught the reference of the first sentence. Slide into my DMs, we’ll be good friends.

This past week at the Valero Texas Open, Kevin Chappell broke through for his first career victory in his 180th start on the PGA Tour. The 30-year-old American held off the late charge by Brooks Koepka and won by a stroke with a brilliant birdie on his final hole of the tournament. After draining the putt, Chappell exploded with excitement as his victory was clinched. The reaction and the tournament in general provided great entertainment. Congrats, Kevin!

Other news from this week: Ian Poulter lost his tour card after failing to make cut. Poulter was playing this season on a medical extension after an injury last yearA two-time World Golf Championship winner, 12-time European Tour winner, Ryder Cup superstar and former fifth-ranked player in the world, Poulter needed to earn about $30,000, meaning he needed a top-40 finish at the Valero Texas Open. He missed the cut by two strokes, however, and earned a whopping $0. This left him short of the top 125 on the money list (for the 2015-2016 season) needed to guarantee his tour card for the rest of the season. Poulter will now be back playing on the Euro Tour, and only on the PGA Tour when he receives a sponsor’s exemption.

I’ll wrap up this week’s coverage and launch into some headlines for the remainder of the season being as this is the last time you’ll hear from me for a while… I know, big relief.

The U.S. Open is at Erin Hills in Wisconsin this year and will take place June 15th-18th, finishing on Father’s Day (#patriarchyprobs). Dustin Johnson is the defending champion, and I expect to see a fired-up DJ after he was forced to withdraw from The Masters because of a freak back injury.

The 146th Open Championship (colloquially known as the British Open) will take place July 20-23 at Royal Birkdale. Birkdale has hosted 10 opens with great champions such as Johnny Miller, Ian Baker Finch, Tom Watson, Mark O’Meara, Lee Trevino and, of course, Arnold Palmer. My early pick to win the Open was Alex Noren, but I’m going to pull back on that pick and instead go super mainstream with Jordan Spieth. He seems like the horse for the course, as they say.

The PGA Championship will be played at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina on Aug. 10-13. The year’s final shot at glory has become the Cinderella-story major in recent years, with many first-time winners and even relative unknowns winning the tournament in the past decade (sans Rory McIlroy in 2012 and 2014 and Jason Day in 2015). First-time major winner Jimmy Walker is the defending champion. My way-too-early pick for this tournament is Justin Thomas; hopefully, the young American can find his incredible early season form that got him three wins already this season.

It has been a pleasure, y’all. Thanks for reading. And I hope everyone gets to spend a little time on the links this summer. God bless.


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