By Alex Myers
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- If you follow professional golf, you should know who Kevin Chappell is. The 26-year-old is no stranger to being high on the leader board at a big tournament having finished T-3 at the 2011 U.S. Open. Remember?
OK, so maybe you don't remember that. After all, he finished 10 shots behind winner Rory McIlroy. But now this Swoosh-wearing golfer has ensured himself the most pressure-packed Saturday tee time of his young career after a second-round 66 at TPC Sawgrass.
"The course is in great condition," Chappell said. "The greens are rolling as pure as anything we've played all year, so you get the ball on line it's going to go in the hole. That's going to lead to good scores, and there hasn't been any wind. The more wind and the firmer the greens get, the tougher it's going to be."
The biggest putt Chappell rolled in was his first of the day, a 20-footer for par on No. 10. He then went eagle-birdie-birdie on the next three holes to shoot up the leader board, and finished with a birdie on No. 9 to lock up a spot in one of the third round's final pairings.
This year Chappell has a pair of top 10s at the Humana Challenge and the Shell Houston Open, but he's also missed more cuts than he's made. At the Players, he's had an equally-rocky history having missed out on playing the weekend here last year and finishing T-69 in his only other appearance in 2011.
During those two years he had to deal with the flu (2012) and food poisoning (2011). This year? He's sick again, but it's just some congestion.
"I've been trying to get a lot of rest and eat the right things and take the right drugs out there to keep me somewhat sane," he said.
Chappell became the first UCLA player to win an individual NCAA title in 2008 when he led the Bruins to the team title as well. On Wednesday, fellow Bruin and Jacksonville Jaguars' star Maurice Jones-Drew took one crack at TPC's 17th hole and stuck his shot to 10 feet. Maybe it was an omen.