Nine birdies in succession during his second round of the Military Tribute at Greenbrier has not only swept American Kevin Chappell into contention in the opening event of the PGA Tour season, but he has become the 10th player to break 60 and equaled the PGA Tour record for the most birdies in succession.

Chappell is playing his first PGA Tour event since November of 2018 making his effort even more remarkable.

Last November he announced he was undergoing microdiscectomy surgery on his back, leaving his return open-ended. His lone TOUR win came at the 2017 Valero Texas Open; later that year he participated in the Presidents Cup as a member of the U.S. Team.

After his recovery from surgery, Chappell returned to competitive action on the Korn Ferry Tour, playing two events in late August. He finished T-62 at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, followed by a T-51 at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco.

His birdie run today began at his second hole (the 11th of the course) and finished at the 1st and at that point appeared as if a record round of 58 was in the offering.

He would birdie his 15th and 17th holes so while the new record would not fall his way his round of 59 is the second in the history of the Old White TPC at White Sulphur Spring, Stuart Appleby producing a similar score when winning the event in 2010.

Chappell is three shots from the three-way tie for the lead held by new PGA Tour recruits Scottie Scheffler and Robby Shelton and Chilean Joaquin Nieman.

Cameron Smith is the leading Australian in 6th position, one shot behind Chappell and four from the lead.

“Yeah, really solid,” said Smith when asked about his round. “I’ve had probably a month off golf now. It’s nice to be back playing competitively again. The course is lovely; the resort is lovely. It’s my first time here. Yeah, just soaking it all in.”

Cameron Percy and Matt Jones are tied for 25th while Rhein Gibson and New Zealander Danny Lee are 48th.

Top photo – Cameron Smith courtesy of Henry Peters