MORE INTERVIEWS: CIMB Classic transcripts archive
THE MODERATOR: We want to welcome our third round leader and defending champion, Bo Van Pelt. I think if I told you at the beginning of the day you were going to shoot 62, you'd take it and take it running. Good round today.
BO VAN PELT: Thank you.
Q. Talk about it, obviously, 59 was on the mind for a little bit. Just talk about the back nine as a whole, and almost getting there, and then a little through 18, the bad news as well.
BO VAN PELT: Obviously, I was like 7-back going into the day, so I dug a pretty big hole. Felt like you're going to need at least one really special round to try to give yourself a chance. Probably the biggest shot of the day was the first hole. I hit driver the first two days and played the hole 1 over. I decided to lay-up, and I was still behind the tree. Hit a really good pitching wedge, got it up over the tree, had a 15-footer and made it. Just kind of got the day started off on the right foot.
I drove the ball in play. I don't think I missed a fairway on the front nine. My irons were pretty sharp, and the putter, I had been close all week, and today they were going in. They weren't burning the edge. I just try to keep going. I told myself that everybody else was out there making birdies. Don't be complacent.
Obviously, I was disappointed. I had good looks on 13, 14, and 15, and didn't make any of them. I just wanted to finish strong. And I hit a really good iron shot into 16 and made the putt there. Then 17 I put the ball in play, had a tough two-putt, but got a good break. Trevor had to putt the exact same putt first. That definitely helped me on my read and to know how to hit it. Made a really good stroke there.
Obviously, going into 18, I had a chance to shoot 59. I played the 18th hole well. Made a tap-in birdie there yesterday. I was just trying to really focus on my tee ball. It's a tough tee shot. I was really proud of the tee shot that I hit. It's probably one of the best ones that I hit all day, and unfortunately I just went a little too far. I think I had a little adrenaline going. Got up there on the side slope, and Trevor made really good shot. He pretty much had the same shot I did.
I wouldn't do anything different. I hit the club exactly pin high. I was trying to be really aggressive, and for whatever reason, I felt like I made a good swing, and the ball just jumped off to the right.
From there, I pretty much had nothing from the bunker. I was trying to get the ball, and I knew if I got it on top, it was going to get down there where my putt for bogey was. Unfortunately, it stayed in a bad spot. I knew I was going to have a long putt for bogey once I left it on top.
Obviously, disappointing to finish with a double, but I look back on the 17-and-a-half holes I played, and, you know, hopefully that will carry over into tomorrow, not the last half.
Q. You had a strong run of five or six birdies. What was the momentum you had through those holes??
BO VAN PELT: I was putting the ball in good position off the tee, and it just seemed like I was getting a lot of good yardages. It was just a lot of my normal 8-iron or wedge, and that helps any player. I think you ask certain players when the days are a little off, and a lot of times it's right in between a club. It seemed like today I had a lot of perfect numbers where I could make a swing like I would on the driving range, and that's how far the ball needed to go, and that was definitely the case there in the middle of the round.
Q. Is there any way you can explain how mentally challenging it is to be on the 18th tee and looking at a 59??
BO VAN PELT: Surprisingly, I wasn't really nervous at all. I had obviously never had that good a chance to shoot a 59 before, and to be honest, I'll probably look back on it and think about the third hole. I had a 5-iron in from the middle of the fairway and didn't make birdie. I'll look back at 15, I'm 30 yards from the green with an easy pitch and don't make it. Those are the holes that cost me more than 18, I think, looking back, obviously, those will be the ones.
But I was very pleased with my thought process on 18. That's all you can ask for. I was aggressive off the tee, I was really happy with how I went through my routine and that's why you practice is to put yourself in position like that.
That's what I told myself. You always hear it. It's like a pitcher with a no-hitter. You don't want to talk about it. But obviously you're going to think about it when I was 8-under through 12 or whatever I was. It's that pink elephant in the room. So you say I'm going to think about this for a second and then let's get back to the process of hitting good golf shots.
It's funny. I missed a good putt on 15. I just hit it a hair too hard and it went through the break. I told myself on 13, 14, and 15, I was aggressive on all three-putts. I wasn't wishy-washy on trying to make it. I was really trying to stay aggressive. And I told myself, just stay aggressive these last three. You've still got a shot at this. I was like let's just birdie the last three.
Obviously, the one on 16 gets you thinking about it again. Then to step up, I had hit two bad drives on 17 this week, so I was really pleased with the tee shot I hit on 17, and left myself in the middle of the fairway with the iron into the green to set up that birdie. Like I said, I hit a good drive on 18, it's just where guys are driving it today, it's really tight. That left side comes into play.
But all in all, I'm pleased with my thought process and the way I went about 18 even though it didn't turn out very well.
Q. You seemed to play very well here. What is it about the course that really suits you??
BO VAN PELT: You know, a lot of holes just fit my eye. You can hit driver a lot here. I feel like the driver is a strength of my game. I like to be able to hit it a lot. It's obviously hot and the heat gets to everybody, but I've lived in Oklahoma for almost 20 years, and it gets very hot and very humid there. So I'm not immune to the heat, but I think I'm maybe more used to it than where some people live.
I tell you, I think when I played overseas, I try to enjoy the week. I try to have fun with it. If I'm going come this far, I feel like I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to do it, so I try to embrace the opportunity and play my best.
Q. How does it feel to show up at an event as a defending champion? Is it different from a tournament where you're just another player? And the second question is we have a lot of junior golfers come out and watch the events this year. The mentality, if you can elaborate a little bit, about stepping on the tee box tomorrow as the tournament leader which is most likely what's going to happen?
BO VAN PELT: Well, obviously it's fun to come back to a place as defending champion. I've never had this opportunity. The other tournaments that I've won I've gone on to the PGA TOUR or the tournament went away. So it was a new experience for me.
Obviously, coming back and great memories is a great feeling. The people were great to me last year, and obviously it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed how I played last year.
As far as like the mindset for tomorrow, you know, obviously the golf course is giving up birdies, so you have to stay aggressive. My game plan all week and my game, I try to hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and put myself in position and give myself opportunities from a ball striking perspective.
The greens aren't huge here, so if you can hit a lot of greens, you're going to have some good looks at birdie. So I'm going to try to do the same thing tomorrow and stay aggressive. Just stick to my game plan. That's what I did a good job of last year, so hopefully I can do the same thing tomorrow.
Q. You just shot 9-under and almost 11-under perhaps better. But I'd like to know what is the most important thing you've learned from this round??
BO VAN PELT: I think good golf is simple. You try to have simple thoughts, stick to your target, stick to your routine and do it over and over again, and try to keep your mind quiet. Today I did a very good job of that all day. Even with having 59 to go to the last hole, my mind felt very quiet all day about what I was trying to do. I'm going to try to do the same thing tomorrow.
Obviously, I was talking about prolonging my experience playing in the last group with the lead and go out and execute my game plan, but it's going to be tough. There are a lot of good players. Obviously, if I shot 62 today, there is probably going to be a 62 out there tomorrow by somebody. So you have to stay aggressive and make putts.
BO VAN PELT: No.
BO VAN PELT: I think I'm like every guy in the field. You show up to a tournament and you try to win. Obviously, last week has nothing to do with this week. That is the thing you have to remind yourself of. Tomorrow's a new day. Doesn't matter what I did today. It's my job to go out there and tell the golf ball to do the right stuff. If I do that, then I'll shoot a decent score. If I don't, I won't play very well.