WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Last fall, Kevin Chappell was at home recuperating from back surgery. On Friday in his first PGA Tour event since surgery, he had the 11th sub-60 round in tour history.
Chappell shot an 11-under 59 in the second round of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. He missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 ninth to fall a stroke short of Jim Furyk’s tour record.
“I was trying to keep the mindset, keep the foot on the gas and attack,” Chappell said. “All in all, couldn’t be happier with where I’m at.”
A day after shooting a 71, Chappell opened with a par on No. 10, then birdied the next eight to make the turn in 28. He birdied No. 1 to tie the PGA Tour record for consecutive birdies set by Mark Calcavecchia in the 2009 Canadian Open, and got to 11 under with birdies on Nos. 5 and 7.
Furyk set the record in 2016 with a 58 in the final round of the Travelers Championship.
Chappell was 10 under for the tournament, three shots behind leaders Scottie Scheffler, Joaquin Niemann of Chile and Robby Shelton.
“Ten months ago I was on the couch and couldn’t walk,” Chappell said. “So many people had a lot to do with getting me back out here and getting me competitive. I haven’t accomplished a goal yet. While I can win the golf tournament, this is the step in the right direction.”
It was the first sub-60 round on the PGA Tour since Brandt Snedeker’s 59 at the 2018 Wyndham Championship. Stuart Appleby shot 59 at The Greenbrier in the final round to win by one stroke in its inaugural season in 2010.
After his birdie at No. 7, Chappell saved par from 6 feet on the par-3 eighth and hit a 120-yard wedge into the ninth. He had 24 putts.
After his surgery, Chappell didn’t play again competitively until last month on the Korn Ferry Tour. The 33-year-old former UCLA player had four-top 10 finishes during the 2018 PGA season. His lone tour win came at the 2017 Valero Texas Open.
“I’d like to say I never stopped believing, but it’s always nice to see you can do it and have the evidence to move forward,” Chappell said. “We have a few shots to make up on the leaderboard this weekend and it’s going to take some good playing to win the golf tournament.”
Scheffler and Niemann shot 62. Shelton, the first-round leader, followed an opening 62 with a 65. They were at 13 under.
Scheffler, a tour rookie, won two Korn Ferry events last season and finished as the season points leader. His bogey-free round Friday including 10 one-putt greens. Starting on the back nine, he birdied six of his first eight holes.
“I haven’t put myself in too many bad situations,” Scheffler said. “Just hoping to keep that going for the weekend. Pretty stress free so far.”
The 20-year-old Niemann tied for fifth at the tournament in 2018.
“It’s a really special place,” he said. “I have fun here.”
Adam Long was fourth at 12 under after a 62.
Denny McCarthy followed an opening 72 with a 61 to get to 7 under.
Under a rule change this season, the field was cut to the top 65 players plus ties instead of the top 70. Bryson DeChambeau, the No. 10 ranked player in the world, was at 2 under and missed the cut.
Australian Marc Leishman withdrew with a back injury after shooting 76 in Thursday’s first round. According to the tour, Leishman has four bulging disks that flare up occasionally. Leishman is on the International Team competing in the Presidents Cup in December.