By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Kevin Chappell is playing his 143rd event on the PGA Tour and looking for his first win.
Kevin Kisner is 0 for 109.
Both were in position to pick up their first victory going into the weekend in the RSM Classic at Sea Island. But their position is not as similar as it looks on paper.
Chappell has had a couple of close calls — runner-up finishes in the 2013 Memorial and 2011 Texas Open — but otherwise has been a steady performer in his five previous years on the PGA Tour. He has yet to make it to the Tour Championship.
Kisner is getting used to being in the hunt. He lost in playoffs this year to Jim Furyk at Hilton Head, to Rickie Fowler at The Players Championship and in a four-man playoff at The Greenbrier Classic. Then, he played well enough to win the HSBC Champions in Shanghai two weeks ago except that Russell Knox outplayed him and won by two.
Kisner already is in the Masters next year because he made it to the Tour Championship. Besides, he has risen to No. 25 in the world. Even so, nothing tops the feeling of that first PGA Tour victory, and those two are not alone in their pursuit.
Chappell had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course and had a one-shot lead over Kisner and Freddie Jacobson of Sweden. Kisner played in the group in front of Chappell and shot a 67, while Jacobson had a 5-under 67 on the Plantation Course.
Saturday should go a long way toward setting the stage for the final round.
THE LEADER: Chappell made a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 4, but the real scoring came on the par-5 15th. From a bunker just short of the green, he used a pitching wedge to make sure the ball got all the way to the back tier. It came out perfectly, even though the bunker was so deep that he couldn’t see the ball when it landed on the top tier. He heard someone say, “Go in!” before a dozen or so people in the gallery began to cheer.
The eagle put him in the lead, and he closed with three pars to finish 36 holes at 11-under 131.
The position is nothing new — at least at Sea Island. Two years ago, the UCLA alum was one shot out of the lead going into the weekend. Last year, he was four behind.
THE CHASERS: Kisner seized the early lead Friday with two birdies in four holes and played bogey-free the rest of the way. He just didn’t make many more birdies, except for the par-5 15th.
Kisner has not been overly disappointed at all the close calls this year because he really did nothing wrong. Furyk finished birdie-birdie in the playoff. Fowler was simply sensational at Sawgrass. The exception might have been Greenbrier, where Kisner hit his tee shot on the par-3 18th over the green in a playoff.
“Same club was 20 feet short of the pin in regulation and goes over the green in the playoff,” Kisner said. “I told my caddie, ‘I’m ending it right here.’ And I did — for me.”
THE OTHERS: Ten of the top 20 players on the leaderboard have not won on the PGA Tour.
The list includes Hiroshi Iwata of Japan, who shot 63 in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits this year to tie a major championship record; Rickie Barnes and Jim Herman; and youngsters Michael Kim and Trey Mullinax.
Winning comes with a spot in the Masters, and only four of the top 20 are already in Augusta National — Kisner, Graeme McDowell, Robert Streb and Matt Kuchar.
FATHER KNOWS BEST: Davis Love III, the tournament host, rallied for a 2-under 70 at Plantation to make the cut on the number.
Davis Love IV wasn’t so fortunate.
The 21-year-old son — he goes by Dru — was 3 under with seven holes to play when it all got away from him. Dru Love played those holes in 7-over, shot 42 on the front nine for a 76 and missed the cut by six shots.
He was headed back to school at Alabama before his next big tournament against the likes of Nicklaus, Trevino, Strange and Langer. That would be the Father-Son Challenge. And based on how they looked at Sea Island, it doesn’t seem like a fair fight.
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