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September 13, 2019
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Kevin Chappell into the interview room at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier. Kevin, what a round. You become the tenth player to shoot a sub-60 round on the PGA TOUR, in the 11th time, with Furyk doing it twice.
If we can just got your thoughts on what's going through your head at the moment.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I guess my thoughts are just extreme gratitude. I just couldn't feel more lucky to be here right now. Ten months ago I was laying on my couch and couldn't get up. So many people sacrificed to get me here, especially my family. A lot of people believed in me, put in a lot of hard work.
To go out and have my first start back on the PGA TOUR to shoot 59, get myself in contention going into the weekend, I just couldn't be more proud of myself right now.
THE MODERATOR: So many things going in your favor today. What was the many key, do you think?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: The ball was just going in everywhere. I hit a lot of good putts. Maybe one or two putts that didn't feel right off the face that still went in the hole.
Any time you're making putts it's going to be a fun day.
THE MODERATOR: And even better, move up into contention heading into the weekend. What do you think the key will be of building on this round?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah, so for me, I hit a lot more fairways today even though the number is not going to be high. I missed in the right spots, which allowed me to attack some of these pins.
Still picking my spots, finding the right angles to attack some of these pin locations, and continue to make putts and really have fun and remember how fortunate I am to be here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go through your complete card here shortly, but we'll open up to questions first.
Q. So how did the back problem manifest itself? When did you have surgery? How long were you totally away from playing?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: So the back problem had been masked to are about five years, whether it was through extreme physical therapy and treatment on the road and at home or antiinflammatories and pain medication to get through.
For a long time I could mask it and get another month out of myself to where it was bearable, and then there were times where I couldn't.
I putted out on the 72nd hole at Mayakoba last fall, and by the time I land in fix that night I couldn't get to baggage claim. The adrenaline had come out of my body and I couldn't do it anymore.
My wife got us home, and by Thanksgiving, just before Thanksgiving, I lost feeling in my right leg and wasn't able to walk. That's when we started interviewing doctors and exploring the surgery pipeline. I found a fantastic doctor, Dr. Ellagala, who is on the forefront of spine surgery and has unique technology and he happened to be in my backyard in Scottsdale.
So he did my surgery, and then it was -- my focus went from golf to rehab. That became my job. My family made sacrifices so I could rehab, and so many people around me took time out of their lives and their day-to-day jobs to make sure I was doing my rehab, put in the time with me.
So I was away from the game for four months. I was able to start chipping and putting at four months. Started hitting wedges shortly after that. Was really, really diligent. Listened to my team and listened to my body and started with hitting 12 wedges, and then the next week I got to hit 15, then 20. Just kept growing and growing.
May 11th I played my first nine holes. I remember playing the 9th hole, par-3, hitting the shot into the green and thinking, I can't hit any more shots. I'm tired.
To be here today, what is it, September 12th, four months later playing -- starting my first PGA TOUR event, it's pretty surreal. November 28th.
Q. Congratulations. Not many people have stood four yards away from PGA TOUR immortality. What thoughts were going through your mind at that point? Were you nervous? Just take us through the shot there.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I'll be completely honest, I've been uncomfortable for two days. Just kind of getting back into the swing of things it's not as innate as I thought it was. I really enjoyed it and embraced it today. Obviously seeing the ball going in the hole you can really embrace being uncomfortable.
I made the birdie on 7 and told my caddie, Let's shoot 57. Let's not stop. A lot of variables there on that 8th hole with big slope right, the wind is down off the left, and got adrenaline. Probably haven't had much adrenaline going through my body in the last ten months, so trying to manage that.
Hit a poor first putt and that tennis match was getting started as I was over that six-footer. They were singing the National Anthem, and I chuckled to myself and knocked it in.
And then on the last putt I had it read a little bit more than my caddie did. Again, I'm functioning under a lot of adrenaline and I'm like, All right. I am going to trust you. Probably should've told him I had no intention of reaching in my pocket for a coin after I touched that ball once. It was either go get it out of the hole or tap it in.
The pace lacked a little bit, but to have a chance to shoot 58 is special and I may not ever get it again. I'm glad I had it.
Q. Had you ever had a streak of seven, eight in a row, let alone nine?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: You're going to have to look this up. There was at the time, it was a Nationwide event in Canada hosted by Wayne Gretzky. It was the day LeBron announced he was going to Miami, July 8th, my birthday. I think I birdied the first seven or eight holes to start the tournament and shot 61 that day.
That would be the best streak I've ever had.
Q. As you went along, did you know how many in a row you had made?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah. It was pretty simple math. Shoot 1-over par and then look at the board and it's like, oh, that's two in a row, oh, that's three in a row, I'm 2-under.
So I was aware of it. I just kept trying to give myself opportunities. A prayer kind of went in there on my 9th hole, No. 18, to continue the streak. Not a prayer, but it was a 30-footer up the hill, up a slope, and went in with some pace. I had a laugh. Probably wasn't the best putt I could hit, but the ball went in the hole.
There was a little bit of delay in my group on 10 or the 1st hole, our 10th hole, and to be able to make one -- played out of turn probably three times on that hole.
You know, the last two shots I hit at least. To be able to make that one was nice. I didn't know that until after the round that Mark Calcavecchia is the only one to make ten in a row. To have a putt at it, that's something I'll always be able to tell people about.
Q. When you were laid up, did you ever wondering whether you would get to play golf again?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I never questioned if I would play golf again. PGA TOUR is great with the major medical exemption and knowing there is a chance to compete again because I had status when I left.
But to be able to compete at the level I knew I could do it at, I questioned that. But I think this certainly validates that my game is there. I still possess that ability. Through a lot of the hard work and passion and focus it's -- you know, it's there.
I'm excited at the opportunity to win for the second time on this tour. What a story that would be. Take ten months off and win your first time back. There is a long way to go before I can realize that dream, but it's there and it's obtainable.
Q. Just to clarify, what was the exact surgery that you did have?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: I had a microdiscectomy and laminectomy at L5, S1.
THE MODERATOR: I'm not sure if I misunderstood, but Calc had nine, so you did tie the PGA TOUR record.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Oh, that was for the record? Okay. I'm in good company.
THE MODERATOR: This may take a little while, but we would like you to go through each club you hit en route to the 59. Start on No. 10.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Hit 3-wood and 56 degree wedge and two-putted from 25 feet.
Then I hit a driver and an 8-iron and made it from 19 feet.
12 I hit driver in the left rough. 6-iron just right of the green. Chipped it up to three feet and made it.
13 I hit a driver and a pitching wedge to three feet; made it.
Then I hit a 3-wood and a 60-degree to 15 feet; made that.
Hit a 5-iron into 15 to 17 feet and made that.
Hit a driver and a 60-degree on 16 to six feet and made that.
17, I hit a driver off the tee; 3-wood just short of the green. Pitched up to eight feet and made that.
And then on 18 I hit 7-iron and made a 28-footer, 28-foot putt.
On 1 I hit a driver and a 60- degree and made a nine-footer.
Then on 2 I hit a driver and a 52-degree and two-putted from 20 feet, 22 feet.
Then I hit a 5-iron on 3 and two-putted from 28 feet.
Then I hit a driver and a 60-degree -- yeah, 60-degree on 4 and two-putted.
Then I hit 3-iron, 52-degree, and made it. Yeah, I made it.
Then hit a driver and sand wedge on 6 to 35 feet and two-putted.
Then 7 I hit 3-iron and 56-degree and made it from the left fringe ten feet away.
Then I hit a 6-iron and two-putt on 8.
And then a 3-iron and 52-degree on the last.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Good stuff. Any additional questions?
Q. Curious about the yellow glove.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah, recently parted ways with a sponsor and don't have any clothing-wise currently. Needed some gloves, and G4 was generous enough to send them to me. Never used them before yesterday. I wore a blue one yesterday and I wore a yellow one today. My whole thing with golf attire is I want to be able to take my family to dinner afterwards and no one knew what I did that day.
You're going to wear some bland stuff if that's your attitude. Having a pop of color is fun, and G4 offered that.
THE MODERATOR: All right.
Q. Somebody told me you have an unusual putter. Is it like the second one of a prototype?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Yeah, so it's the second iteration of a putter that TaylorMade makes. I have quite the onsie collection at my house, so Chris Trott with TaylorMade named the first one Onsie. This one has a little bit more offset so this one is called twosy. It's got a lot of I guess offset on it, so I tend to get my hands back when I putt. The grip sets in front of the face already so if my hands tend to get back they're already in front of the face so the putter has the proper amount of loft on it. Make sense?
Q. I may have some miss-information here. I seem to recall you mentioned when Nike stopped making balls you had said I think in the past that each ball only has one birdie in it and you only use one ball and toss it away. Is that still something that happens? You would've needed a dozen balls today.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: That's still something, and we ran into a problem here. That could be why I didn't make the putts on the last few holes. When I made birdie, I reached in there on 8 tee and there was no more balls in the new ball pile.
I had to reuse a ball. I reused a ball on 8 and didn't like the way that went. I put that back and reused a ball on 9. So I got -- so my whole thing was I would never bring out more balls than birdies I've made in a round, so tomorrow we got to bring out one more ball.
Q. I just wondered, you talked about the sacrifices that your family made. How many of them were here to see this?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: My wife walked nine holes, so she saw I guess the eight birdies in row and had to go get the kids from daycare. Those three that made the biggest sacrifices are here. My kids will have no idea what dad did today, and they didn't know what dad shot yesterday either. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'll go home and get a big hug and probably shed a tear or two with my wife.
Q. The tournament is not over by any means. Will you do any celebrating this milestone this evening?
KEVIN CHAPPELL: No. I think for me right now I'm just feeling a lot of gratitude and a lot of pride in myself. Might answer a few text messages tonight and enjoy that. Have a glass of wine with my wife, and before I go to bed refocus to the golf tournament.
Looks like 13-under par is leading going into the weekend. I'm at 10-under. I have some ground to make up. If you can get in the 20s you're going to have a good chance to win the golf tournament.
THE MODERATOR: With what you've been through, we couldn't be happier. Congratulations on a historical day.
KEVIN CHAPPELL: Thank you. (Applause).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports