Pappas left a long birdie putt at the edge of the cup on No. 8 -- his 17th hole -- then closed with a routine par at No. 9 after landing his approach 60 feet short with a lob wedge.
'I threw up on myself with that lob wedge on the last hole,' said Pappas, who two-putted for his closing par. 'I was shaking like a leaf out in the fairway. But it was still an incredible day.'
Pappas opened with five birdies on Le Triomphe's back nine, then added six more on the front nine to break the course record by one shot and equal the lowest opening round score in Nationwide Tour history.
It was his personal best score on the Nationwide Tour by five shots.
Though he hit 16 greens in regulation and needed just 24 putts in a bogey-free round, the brush with history left Pappas lamenting the few shots he left on the course.
'Let's talk about what I didn't do right,' he said. 'I hit a bad shot on No. 5 and a bad lob wedge on the last hole. Every other shot was just how I pictured it. I made the putts I was supposed to make and three or four that I wasn't supposed to make. I just kept making birdies all day.'
Pappas' previous best score on any tour was a 62 in the final round of the PGA Tour's 2003 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, where he was runner-up. He also flirted with a 59 during that round.
'I was 11-under playing the last hole that day and bogeyed it,' Pappas recalled. 'Making the (eight-foot par putt) on the last hole today was important psychologically just to know I'm not going to bogey every time I get to 11-under.'
Pappas was aiming to become the second Nationwide Tour player to shoot 59 on a par-71 course. The first player, Jason Gore, was also the last player on a major professional tour to card a 59 when he accomplished the feat in the second round of the 2005 Cox Classic.
Gore rode his 59 to a win and a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour.
It's the sort of thing that can do wonders for a player like Pappas, a 36- year-old grinder with previous PGA Tour experience who won his first Nationwide Tour title last year.
'When I made the putt on No. 12 to get to eight-under I knew I had a chance,' Pappas said. 'What actually cost me a 59 was on the par-three sixth hole. My seven-iron from 190 yards actually jumped in the hole and then back out.'
Behind Pappas, Justin Bolli had one bogey in a round of seven-under 64 to sit alone in second place. Eight players are tied one shot further back at 66, and 84 players broke par overall.
'It was one of those days where everything felt easy,' said Bolli.
This is the fourth of 33 Nationwide Tour events scheduled for the 2007 season, and the first played in the United States.