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After close calls, Kevin Chappell poised to close one out

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Chappell sets pace at Deutsche Bank (1:32)

With a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Kevin Chappell jumped out to a 1-shot lead through 36 holes. He chatted with ESPN.com's Michael Collins about what to expect over the final two rounds. (1:32)

NORTON, Mass. -- Just because Saturday was the official start to the college football season, it's only natural that we compare Deutsche Bank Championship 36-hole leader Kevin Chappell to one of the teams we'll see this year.

He might be the team from the non-power conference threatening to win a title.

Or he might be the team on the verge of peaking next season.

Or he might be the team that keeps coming close but can't pull off the victory.

Or maybe it's none of these. Maybe we've just caught a little case of football fever over here.

Analogies aside, Chappell leads at TPC Boston after opening rounds of 67-64, as he chases a first career win that has been so close yet so elusive to this point.

So far this season, he owns three solo second-place finishes, netting him more than $3.5 million and a likely berth in the season-ending Tour Championship, which was a goal of his. If there's a non-football comparison to be made, it's with Kevin Kisner, who had three runner-up results last season, then won for the first time in his fourth start of this season.

Despite not winning yet, Chappell insisted he still views his campaign with a positive outlook.

"It's hard to be frustrated when you're having the best year of your career," he said. "That's really how I try to look at it. Last year when I stood here, I was trying to get to the next event, and this year I stand here and it sounds like I'm pretty much a lock to get to the last event at East Lake.

"You can't be disappointed with that. I would love to have won and won multiple times, but I've learned from those experiences, and my team and I keep addressing the weaknesses that come up from those situations. You don't know if you're improving until you get in the situation and see how you hold up, so I look forward to that."

He's going to have an opportunity to see that improvement over the final 36 holes, with some heavyweight competition in close pursuit.

Jimmy Walker, the recent PGA Championship winner, is just 1 stroke back. So is Paul Casey, the former top-10 player and multiple Ryder Cup team member. Among those not far behind them is Dustin Johnson, who might be enjoying the best season of anyone to date, and Justin Rose, who won Olympic gold just three weeks ago.

As for what Chappell has learned from those previous close calls, he pointed to a specific intangible component to his performance.

"Just how patient you need to be and really the value of a shot," he explained. "Use The Players [Championship], for example. I was over par for the tournament for 26 holes and was able to fight back and finish solo second. Solo second pays out like a win, which is huge, but I could have easily packed it in and took it as a missed cut and all of a sudden I net $1 million on the week. It just goes to show that you're never out of it. I'm never out of it, and I need to be myself and just ride out the process."

That learning curve will be on display during the final two rounds.

There's plenty on the line for Chappell, who could put himself in excellent position for the $10 million FedEx Cup first prize, and perhaps even become a candidate for a Ryder Cup captain's selection.

He's either like the team that keeps coming close without finishing or will peak next season, or -- and he's hoping it's this one -- is ready to prove itself against those power conferences.

Hey, it might be football season, but Chappell is showing he's not ready to close the door on this golf season just yet, either.