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
AKRON, Ohio -- Bo Van Pelt has had an interesting front nine.
The veteran just turned in 32 after making birdie putts of 17 and 19 feet on Nos. 8 and 9 -- bringing his total for the first nine holes to three. Van Pelt also managed to sandwich a 9-foot eagle putt between bogeys at Nos. 1 and 3.
He's now 4 under and tied for 11th, seven strokes behind the leader, Jim Furyk, who tees off in 18 minutes.
World No. 3 Rory McIlroy has birdied two of his first three holes to move to 5 under. Also on the course at that number are Keegan Bradley, who just birdied the second hole, and John Senden, who birdied the first.
Check out the top five shots of the week from the RBC Canadian Open and Nationwide Children's Hospitals Invitational with highlights from J.B. Holmes, Kevin Kisner, Ben Kohles, Bo Van Pelt, and Scott Piercy.
Five players -- Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Charl Schwartzel -- currently share the clubhouse lead at 5-under 65 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, where they’re playing lift, clean and place after an overnight storm swept through the area and soaked the golf course.
Here’s what some of the leaders had to say about the opening round:
Vegas on the course conditions: “It is really soft. You can really throw anything at the pins and it's going to stop there.”
Vegas on how much of a difference there is between playing lift, clean and place and playing the ball down: “You take the doubt out of your mind. When you have your eye on the ball, you don't know which way the ball is going to go. So cleaning it takes it completely out of your mind. You can put a good spin on it, and usually you can get a result. It's huge.”
Appleby, who shot a 59 in the final round to win at The Greenbrier two years ago, on the similarities between that course and this one: “The greens, probably similar speed. The topography of this course is a lot hillier, a lot more demanding I think on the tee shots. The golf course now at Greenbrier is a lot more demanding than it was when I shot it.”
Schwartzel on being healthy again after missing a month between the U.S. and British Open due to a rib injury: “Before I had the injury, that second Masters before the British Open I thought that was the best I've hit the ball in my career. I hit it so good. Then the injury came and I was pretty upset about it because I thought I was really close to breaking through and winning again. I had to sit around for three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks without being able to hit a ball. I had sort of a rushed recuperation for the British Open, wasn't quite 100 percent. But at the British Open I didn't hit it as good as I did when I took off, but I kept practicing, and on Monday when I came here, things started falling into place.”