Can shooting 59 be a bad thing? It was, in part, for this PGA Tour winner

March 17, 2020

Kevin Chappell missed a majority of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season with a back injury. Between November 2018 and his return in September 2019, he made just two starts (both on the Korn Ferry Tour) as a tune up for his return to the Tour.

Then a crazy thing happened.

In his first start on the Tour in 10 months, Chappell fired an 11-under 59 in the second round at a Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. It was the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.

“Ten months ago, I was on the couch and I couldn’t walk,” Chappell said as he fought back tears during the post-round interview. “So many people had a lot to do with getting me back out here and getting me competitive … (The time off) gave me some perspective on what the game means to me and what my family means to me, and maybe why I play the game.”

It was a career milestone and a beautiful moment for the 33-year-old who’d battled through adversity. But shooting 59, he said, actually had a downside, too.

In a recent interview on GOLF.com’s Subpar, Chappell told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz the round was “a great accomplishment, but a mistake at the same time.”

“It validated that I was ready to start competing, and in hindsight I wasn’t even close,” Chappell said. “It was a great day. I hit some great shots. I made some putts, but I wasn’t even practicing yet.”

Leading up to the event, Chappell was hitting fewer than 100 balls per day. That number pales in comparison to other pros’ practice regimes, which typically consist of hours upon hours of work each day.

“I was ignorant enough to think I could compete with the most elite golfers in the world only practicing that much,” Chappell said. “It kind of validated that, but it was some false validation … It probably sent me in the wrong direction in the comeback.”

Chappell closed with two rounds over 70 that week in West Virginia. Since then, he’s made only four cuts in nine starts as he continues to search for that peak form that he exhibited at the Greenbrier.

In his time with Knost and Stoltz, Chappell also belted out his favorite country jams, reflected on his college days at UCLA and explained why he came to the interview dressed as a narwhal. Check out Subpar every Tuesday for more in-depth interviews with the biggest personalities in golf.

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