Kid therapy at Kevin Kisner’s mountain home has given Kevin Chappell renewed mindset for John Deere Classic

After digging himself into a hole with an opening-round 75 at the RBC Canadian Open in late May, Kevin Chappell went on to miss the cut, marking the fourth time in his last five PGA Tour starts he’d failed to reach the weekend.

These have been trying times for Chappell, now 37, as the UCLA product has slipped from a career-best Official World Golf Ranking of 23rd back in 2017 — after winning the Valero Texas Open — to his current place at No. 458.

But there he was on Thursday at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, opening the day with birdies on four of his first seven holes and carding a 64 to put his name near the top of the leaderboard at TPC Deere Run.

So what magic did Chappell find between his last start nearly five weeks ago and Thursday?

Let’s call it kid therapy.

Chappell, who has children ages three, seven and nine, spent a couple of weeks as a guest at the mountain home of buddy Kevin Kisner, a fellow member of the 2017 Presidents Cup team. While the two families spent one full week together, the Kisners left their two kids behind for some of the second week, giving Chappell and his wife Elizabeth time to soak in five little ones all under 10 years old.

The move seems to have cleared his mind.

Kevin Chappell plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Chappell, who mixed a total of seven birdies into a bogey-free round on Thursday, said his kids are a driving force behind his desire to get back near the top.

“It’s my job, so it’s how I feed my family. I think I am driven right now by having my kids getting older. A lot of my success happened when they were young and they don’t have memories of it,” he said. “I would love for them to have memories of Dad playing good golf, not packing the car up on Fridays. I think that’s what drives me right now. Continue to provide, do something I really enjoy. I am getting to live my dream. 30 years of this, getting to play professional golf or work towards playing professional golf.

“So even the bad days can’t be that bad. That’s the ultimate goal, is to show them that hard work pays off and there could be success there, especially though there have been years where there hasn’t been.”

Chappell will need to keep the birdie train rolling to compete for a title at TPC John Deere, where low scores are often the norm. Although Thursday’s round was his second-lowest of the season (he fired a 63 in the final round of the CJ Cup), reigning champion Sepp Straka won last year’s event with a 62 on Sunday.

And there’s more at stake than just a payday in the Quad Cities. Two spots are available into the 152nd Open. The top players, not otherwise exempt, who make the cut at the John Deere Classic will earn an exemption to Royal Troon.

“I’m still out here to win, out here to compete. I generally feel as good as I have felt in years, and think my best golf could be ahead of me because of that. I just haven’t seen it,” he said. “It’s hard to hold onto that hope when you’re not seeing the results. Rounds like today are great. I played a good final round at the CJ Cup, which felt like I was going to have some momentum and haven’t seen any momentum since then.

“But a good round today is awesome, and something to build off and something I can really feel like can project me forward into some good results.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek