Crooked Stick marks homecoming for trio, but Playoffs pressure loomsJeff Overton, Bo Van Pelt and Dicky Pride bring their strong Indiana ties to Pete Dye's gem north of Indianapolis.September 05, 2012
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
CARMEL, Ind. -- All year, Jeff Overton's friends had been texting him. We're coming to watch you play at Crooked Stick in September, they'd say. We can't wait, they'd tell him.
Trouble was, Overton didn't know for sure that he'd be competing in the BMW Championship. Only the top 70 in the standings advance to the third FedExCup Playoffs event so there were no guarantees -- particularly after the native Hoosier and Indiana grad missed the cut at The Barclays and fell from 58th to 83rd with one week to go.
So it all came down to the Deutsche Bank Championship. And golf's "boom baby" delivered, opening with a 64 that paved the way to a tie for seventh at TPC Boston that lifted Overton from 83rd to 40th in the FedExCup.
"I never had so much energy," Overton said. "I don't know if it's the Playoffs or just because it's here, a combination. But I was so nervous, and there was so much energy going on in my system because I knew I wanted to make it back here.
"The last thing I wanted to do was be sitting down there in Bloomington at my house watching this thing on TV. I knew that would have been just dreadful."
Dicky Pride and Bo Van Pelt know how Overton felt.
Van Pelt was born in Richmond, Ind., which is about 90 minutes from Crooked Stick, and he was in the gallery when John Daly won the PGA Championship here 22 years ago -- the last time the PGA TOUR's best played in his home state. Unlike his fellow Hoosier, though, Van Pelt, who defected to Oklahoma State, has only played Crooked Stick, once so he doubts he'll have an advantage.
"I'll get some home cooking at my sister's house, so that's about it," Van Pelt said.
Local knowledge or not, Van Pelt is pleased to see the Playoffs event being held at Crooked Stick.
"It's kind of a flagship course for Indiana," Van Pelt said. "They did a great job in '91 hosting us then. In my opinion it took too long to get something back here with the PGA TOUR. ... I know Indianapolis is excited to have a tournament, BMW is a great sponsor, and I think it's going to show off well this week."
Direct Connect: Jeff Overton
The Indiana grad and Bloomington resident answers fan's questions about Crooked Stick.
Pride, on the other hand, doesn't have the Indiana roots. His wife Kim does. She's from Muncie, which is about an hour from Carmel so plenty of friends and family will be in Pride's gallery this week. Plus, the stalwart Alabama fan isn't the only Crimson Tide alum at Crooked Stick, and Pride has known the club's director of golf, Tony Pancake, since he was a teenager.
"The last time I saw him was actually at the BCS game," Pride said. "So that was a good memory. It's kind of cool to be here with that."
And to be at Crooked Stick, period. The 43-year-old veteran wasn't exempt at the start of the 2012 season. He was playing on past champion status, which is at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of gaining entry into tournaments.
In fact, Pride's first tournament of the year was actually in Colombia on the Web.com Tour where he tied for 20th. He opened his PGA TOUR season a week later at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and tied for fifth, which got him in The Honda Classic where he shared seventh.
"I've kind of snowballed it from there," Pride said.
Getting to Crooked Stick wasn't easy, though. Pride had to birdie his last two holes at TPC Boston for a 68, then wait nearly an hour to see if his tie for 20th would be good enough to keep him at No. 70, a jump of 26 spots. Now he likely needs to finish third or better to advance to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola but Pride isn't feeling any pressure.
"I've got nothing to lose, so go play and see how good you can play," he said. "There's no worries about playing poorly or doing anything like that. You just stick to your game plan, know which pins you're going to shoot for and just go for it. Worst thing that can happen is I play four days."
And the best, too.
"There's nothing like being able to come home and play on your home soil and get to represent your home state," Overton said. "... So far representing the USA in the Ryder Cup and now getting to come back here to the home state ... just kind of gives you the goosebumps."