By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- The last time Kevin Chappell had played in a PGA TOUR event he was trying to preserve his playing privileges for the 2013 campaign.
Chappell came into the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic last fall ranked No. 123rd on the money list. He ended up tying for 34th, dropping two spots and keeping his card by a mere $1,809,
Chappell made his 2013 debut a much more memorable experience when he closed with a career-low 62 at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He started on the back nine and flirted with the magic 59, making 11 birdies but three-putting his final hole.
Chappell was rewarded with a top-10 finish, his first since he tied for 10th at last year's U.S. Open.
"I said to my caddie walking up 18, this is a lot better than where I was end of last year, fighting to keep my card," Chappell said. "It's good to get those nerves going again and a nice way to break off the rust."
Chappell, who started the day 10 strokes off the lead, said golf's Holy Grail entered his mind when he came to the 18th hole -- where David Duval made that memorable eagle to shoot 59 in his 1999 victory.
"I hit it on David Duval's plaque on 18," Chappel;l said. "And I said, Well, David Duval made it from here. I said to my caddie, I probably hit it to right where he hit that putt from. The pin's a little bit further left. And then I hit a mediocre eagle putt, but I tapped it in for birdie."
"I knew it would be tough having to make birdie on the ninth hole to shoot 59 or even hole it from the fairway just because it's a tough finishing hole, but it was in there. But it never was the goal. I just wanted to keep hitting good shots and stick to my process and see what it added up to."
Chappell made 11 birdies and the lone bogey at No. 9. His previous low on TOUR was a 65.