By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- When Bo Van Pelt was a student at Oklahoma State, he hit the gym with regularity. Mike Holder, who led the Cowboys to nine NCAA titles, wouldn't have it any other way.
Once he graduated, though, and played his way onto the PGA TOUR, Van Pelt admits he wasn't always so diligent. That is, until about three years ago, when the Indiana native, who is now 37, realized he'd been pretty darn lucky not to have had any serious physical problems interrupt his career.
"I was smart enough to realize that as you get older if you just keep doing the same stuff it's probably just going to regress," Van Pelt said. "So I got together with a group of guys that train some guys out here and just kind of made a plan and I've stuck to it and my results have been better."
Better, indeed. Van Pelt picked up his first PGA TOUR title in 2009 and he has earned $8.7 million in the last three years. The veteran had a career-high top-10 finishes in 2013, as well.
The key for Van Pelt has been accountability -- just like he had with Holder. If his trainers say he's going to do a 25-minute warm up before he plays, Van Pelt is there. Ditto for the workout after a round. Another trainer when he's back in Tulsa makes sure there is no back-sliding too.
"He's on me like, hey, are you home yet? I'm going to see you tomorrow," Van Pelt said, grinning. "If I have that appointment, I'm not going to slip out on it. We're just setting up the framework for me to be accountable to them."
Van Pelt is one of several players on TOUR who represents Humana, which sponsors this week's PGA TOUR event in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He was joined at a press conference Wednesday by the company's newest ambassador, Gary Player, and it was clear Van Pelt was in awe of the 77-year-old.
"I always think of the good old line about Mickey Mantle (that) if he'd have known he was going to live that long he would have taken better care of his body and I think Gary Player is the exact opposite of that," Van Pelt said. "He's done everything he could do to make sure he lived as healthy as he could for as long as he could.
"You look at the guy's lifestyle -- he's probably more active than most 30-year-olds in this country. it's a credit to him and the commitment he made a long time ago. he's reaping the benefits and it's an inspiration to all of us."
Van Pelt was among the players whose steps were calculated during last year's Humana Challenge. He says the 12,000 he took that week might have calculated into too many shots -- "but I made the cut so I was probably walking over to help my amateur partner some," he said with a wry smile. He's hoping for more birdies in the 2013 event.
All the players will be measured this week and their steps, combined with calories burned, shown in real-time on the Golf Channel and on HumanaChallenge.com. Van Pelt thinks it's a great way to demonstrate that you don't necessarily have to pump iron to reap the benefit of exercise.
"I think everybody, even me, you get intimidated, I don't want to go in the gym," Van Pelt said. "And you can do like Gary said and just get up and walk some. You'd be amazed just do that a little bit day after day what that can lead to."
Jason Day has exactly one win in 115 career starts. Look for him to have a Jason Dufner-style rise into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. -- Ryan Smithson, Site Producer
Even though he won the Frys.com Open, Jonas Blixt is s till flying under the radar. Despite missing time with a rib injury, Blixt posted 5 Top-10 finishes in his rookie season. He was second on TOUR in Strokes Gained Putting and first in sand saves. -- Fred Albers, PGA TOUR Radio
The last time Phil Mickelson didn't win on TOUR was 2003. Will that change in 2013? Mickelson, who will turn 43 in June, is on the other side of his career, and he continues to battle psoriatic arthritis. I think he's due for a down year. -- Brian Wacker, Side Producer
Bo Van Pelt. He’s placed inside the top 30 in the final FedExCup standings each of the past three seasons. In 2012, he collected a TOUR high-tying 10 top 10s, and is one of the best putters (11th in strokes gained-putting) and one of the best drivers (3rd in total driving). This is the year where Van Pelt wins something big – maybe even the FedExCup. -- Bill Cooney, Site Producer
Gary Woodland. Making a swing change took its toll on one of the TOUR's biggest hitters in 2012. Hopefully he has it figured out by now. -- Mike McAllister, Managing Editor
Due to injury and limited status, Billy Horschel hasn’t had the opportunity to flash his talent over a full season since his debut in 2010. Now healthy and near the top of the opening reshuffle, it would be an upset if he didn’t convert with supreme confidence on top of what was an easy go at q-school that punctuated a quietly solid 2012. -- Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist
Gary Woodland. He was essentially a non-factor in 2012 after he was injured amdist a swing change, finishing 134th in FedExCup standings. He showed signs of life in the Fall Series with a T9 at the Frys.com Open, and I think he'll be back to winning-form this season. -- Anne Szeker, Site Producer
I was tempted to say Justin Rose but after eight-top 10s last year, including two in majors, nothing he does would be a surprise. So let's go with big-hitting Gary Woodland, who is fully recovered from that nagging wrist injury and rejuvenated after the hard work he's put in with Butch Harmon. -- Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents
With a win at Wyndham and (sigh) the Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia looked like a kid again. And he's only turning 32 on Jan. 9; he still has a lot of productive years ahead. I say this is one of them, with multiple wins. -- John Schwarb, Site Producer
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here.
2013 PREVIEW: Only one person had as many top-10 finishes as Bo Van Pelt did on TOUR in 2012. But Rory McIlroy converted four of his 10 into wins and Van Pelt's best was solo second at the AT&T National. Van Pelt, who has an overseas win each of the last two seasons, is a victory waiting to happen, though, and next year could be the one.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: The temptation would be to pick that runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at Congressional. But let's go with the 64 he shot in the first round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in his home state of Indiana. Granted, he couldn't convert that share of the lead into a win but it was certainly an emotional day. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Talk about improvement, BVP went from 144th in strokes gained-putting to 11th. He is third on TOUR in total driving and is set up for a huge 2013. I thought he was going to win AT&T National but faltered on the last three holes against Tiger Woods. I doubt he falters the next time he's in that position. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: It's not the first time I've written it, but it demands repeating. There are fantasy champions chanting "B-V-P! B-V-P!" this offseason. When a guy racks up 24 starts and 10 top 10s, the absence of a win is almost irrelevant. It's just more of the same, really. Since 2010, he's gone 63-for-79 with 23 top 10s and another 20 top 25s. It's also unfair to state that he hasn't won because he's done that, too. Since the conclusion of the 2011 season, he hoisted hardware at the CIMB Classic (2011) and in Australia on the European Tour in October 2012. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
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2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||2nd||AT&T National|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 20
Rounds played: 91
Top-10 finishes: 10
Money List rank: 23rd
Driving distance: 40th
Driving accuracy: 44th
Greens in regulation: 40th
Strokes gained-putting: 11th
Scoring average: 12th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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After a fourth-place FedExCup finish and a tie for 10th in Vegas, Nick Watney took his momentum overseas, winning the CIMB Classic by one shot over Robert Garrigus and Bo Van Pelt. Watney racked up 11 birdies Sunday at The MINES Resort & Golf Club, putting himself on 59 watch late in the round.
The 31-year-old needed a birdie on the final hole to join the sub-60 club but took a bogey that took 59 out of play and put victory in doubt. In the final pairing, Garrigus closed birdie-birdie to get close while an identical finish would have put Van Pelt into a playoff. Instead, the Hoosier bridied the 17th but found a greenside bunker with his approach on No. 18. Tiger Woods rebounded from Saturday's back-nine 39 with a Sunday 63 that left him in a fourth-place tie with Brendon de Jonge and Chris Kirk at 19 under.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Bo Van Pelt knew better than to get ahead of himself.
Sure, he had just rolled in birdie putts of 2 and 12 feet on the first two holes Thursday. But East Lake is rarely very generous, and you can often find yourself waiting for the other set of soft-spikes to drop.
"It's just tough from start to finish," Van Pelt explained. "I got off to a really good start, and you kind of think, oh, this is going to be an easy day today. But the golf course just keeps coming at you. If you're a little off, can you make a bunch of bogies in a hurry."
Fortunately for Van Pelt, he hung tough and gutted out a round of 67 on a day when he didn't have his usually dependable tee-to-green game. He only hit six fairways and eight greens but his 23 putts led the field, and the round of 3 under left the Oklahoma State grad one shot off the lead.
Van Pelt, though, had entered the week ranked 28th on TOUR in driving accuracy and 21st in greens in regulation. Interestingly, he was 116th in scrambling, converting 56 percent of the time -- but that's what kept Van Pelt in the game on Thursday.
"Normally my ball striking is usually my strong suit, if you
look at my stats," Van Pelt said. "And I hit it really well the
first seven holes, then starting on 8 I didn't hit the ball well
really the whole rest of the day. I got the ball up and down five
times out of six on the back nine out of the bunker, which, again,
is not a great stat for me historically.
"So to do that, you're going to have those off days and off nine holes. So I kind of kept my round (going), and luckily I got off to a good start and was able to keep the round together."
Van Pelt came to East Lake ranked 19th in the FedExCup. So he's not daydreaming about what he'd do with $10 million -- he just wants to win the TOUR Championship to cap off another consistent year.
"To me just the only person I can control is myself," Van Pelt
said. "... I've been pleased with my year other than the fact that
I haven't won a golf tournament. So this is kind of my last chance
to try to get a win. Just excited to be here. I feel fortunate to
be here three years in a row. I don't think there are that many
guys that have done it.
"You work hard all year to get here, and I just want to enjoy the week. It's a great golf course. They treat us really well. You don't want to ever take these for granted when you're here. So you just go, enjoy the week and try to play as hard as you can, and let the clubs lay down at the end of Sunday."
The top 30 in FedExCup points are headed to East Lake for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Here’s a look at Bo Van Pelt, one of the 30 players who will contend for the FedExCup title.
SCENARIOS TO WIN FEDEXCUP: For Van Pelt to win the
FedExCup, he MUST win the TOUR Championship and have the following
scenarios fall into place:
> Rory McIlroy (No. 1) finishes T-12 or worse
> Tiger Woods (No. 2) finishes 5th or worse
> Nick Watney (No. 3) finishes in a 3-way tie for 3rd or worse
> Phil Mickelson (No. 4) finishes 3rd or worse
> Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) finishes in a 3-way tie for 2nd or worse
> Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) finishes T-2 or worse
> *Tie for the FedExCup
Click here for scenarios of every player
SEASON IN REVIEW: Van Pelt is looking for his first victory of the season but he certainly must have felt like a winner at the BMW Championship, played for the first time in his home state of Indiana where the crowds offered him tremendous support. He responded well, too, grabbing a share of the first-round lead with a course-record tying 64 and going on to tie for 10th. That was his ninth top-10 of the season, which leads the PGA TOUR. He also finished second at AT&T National. -- Helen Ross
PATH TO TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Here’s a look at
Van Pelt’s results in the first three events of the 2012
Click here for Playoffs Tracker of every player.
|FEC ranking after event||
PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES: Here is how Van Pelt has finished in previous Playoffs appearances:
EAST LAKE HISTORY: Van Pelt is making his third start at East Lake. He finished ninth here last year after finishing 24th in his debut in 2010.
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Fred Albers, on-course
correspondent for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, provides a quick look at
In my opinion, has improved his putting more than anyone else on TOUR this season. A top 10 machine. The key to winning is giving yourself lots of chances, and this could be his week.
PLAYER PAGE: Click here for more on Bo Van Pelt
Now it’s your turn. How do you think Van Pelt will fare at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola?
CARMEL, Ind. – Of the top 28 players currently on the BMW leaderboard, just three players are over par for their third rounds – including Tiger Woods.
Woods is 2 over through seven holes, dropping to 10 under for the tournament. That’s five shots behind leader Vijay Singh, who is through six holes.
Woods had gone 25 consecutive holes without a bogey until his bogey at the par-3 third. Since then, he’s bogeyed three of his last five holes.
The only other player besides Woods inside the top 28 who’s over par on Saturday is Bo Van Pelt, who’s also 2 over through seven holes. Van Pelt is 9 under for the tournament.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- Webb Simpson knows the emotions Bo Van Pelt is feeling this week.
The BMW Championship is a home game for Van Pelt, who grew up a little over an hour away from Crooked Stick. He's had to wait a long time to play professionally in front of his fellow Hoosiers -- the last time the PGA TOUR's best played in Indiana was at the 1991 PGA Championship.
Van Pelt was 16 that year -- "I was stealing practice balls off the range and trying to avoid the lightning," he recalled -- when he drove over to Crooked Stick to watch John Daly win. Simpson had a similar experience, caddying as a teenager during the pro-am at the Wyndham Championship, played about 90 minutes from his childhood home in Raleigh, N.C.
The two played together on Thursday at the BMW Championship and fired matching 64s that gave them a share of the first-round lead with Rory McIlroy and Graham DeLaet. Van Pelt made a 21-inch birdie putt on the 18th hole to pull into the tie while Simpson came up with a 5-footer to save par.
"It's a big deal for me," Van Pelt said. "I want to play well."
Simpson certainly couldn't ignore the ovation Van Pelt received on the first tee Thursday morning.
"I didn't realize he was from here until the first tee when I heard all the people erupt,'” Simpson said. “But it was fun playing with him. I get two home events myself, and I know what it feels like to play well. He had a great day."
Simpson actually got his breakthrough PGA TOUR victory at the 2011 Wyndham Championship. And he finished one shot shy of a playoff this year at the other home game, the Wells Fargo Championship, where he lives a mile away from the host course.
Van Pelt, who won the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, would like nothing better than to follow in Simpson's footsteps, too. He said he didn't feel any added pressure when he teed off in the first round, though.
"I've been doing this a long time and obviously was excited to play in front of my home state and a lot of friends and family and obviously wanted to do well, but I definitely wouldn't call it nerves, just more excitement," Van Pelt said. "I was ready to get going."
He birdied his first two holes to get headed in the right direction. Van Pelt went on to turn in 31 and added three more birdies on the back nine. He hit 11 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens and took 26 putts.
"Stay aggressive -- that's just what I kept telling myself as I was making birdies early, just to keep going, because I knew if it seemed like it was playing easy for me, it was probably playing easy for anybody," Van Pelt said.
"I was a little disappointed in 13 through 15. I had three really good looks there inside 10 feet and didn't make any of them. It's something I've been trying to work on when I've been playing well is to take advantage of my opportunities. I was upset that I didn't make any of those three, but it was nice to finish with a birdie.
Simpson, on the other hand, made his move on the back nine where he shot 31. The reigning U.S. Open champ said playing with Van Pelt and, for that matter, Jim Furyk, who opened with three straight birdies on the way to a round of 69, was a positive.
"When you watch a guy who's making putts and playing well, it kind of lets you see that it's gettable out there," Simpson said.
Simpson also managed to tour Crooked Stick without a bogey. He hit 12 fairways, 11 greens in regulation and used just 22 putts -- one-putting six of his last seven holes and the seventh from the fringe.
"Good, solid golf, no bogeys, which I'm always excited about," Simpson said. "Got the putter going, made a lot of putts on the back nine, and it was good to get up and down for par on the last after not making any bogeys. I didn't want to end with a bogey, so it was a great start and in good position."
Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012
4:30 p.m. ET: Hunter Mahan
5 p.m. ET: Rickie Fowler
5:15 p.m. ET: Dicky Pride
Wednesday, Sept 5
Following a.m. Pro-Am: Rory McIlroy
Following a.m. Pro-Am: Tiger Woods
Following a.m. Pro-Am: Bo Van Pelt
TBD: Justin Rose