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.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Bo Van Pelt went the distance with Tiger Woods, for most of the day anyway.
Tied for the lead coming down the stretch of the AT&T National, Van Pelt had a small opening to seize control of the tournament on the 16th hole. Instead, he found out just how hard it is to beat the player he calls the best in the world right now.
After smoking a 345-yard drive down the left side of the fairway on the 589-yard par-5, Van Pelt’s 6-iron second shot took a bad bounce left and into the rough. With Woods’ third over the back of the green and in a bad spot of his own, Van Pelt still had a chance to do what Woods has done to so many others in his career.
Instead, Van Pelt left his pitch in the rough and went on to bogey the hole.
One hole later, Van Pelt made another bogey when his approach flew the green and was unable to get-up-down with an impossible flop shot that rolled through the rock hard putting surface.
Van Pelt bogeyed the 18th, too, but by then it was game over.
“Obviously it's disappointing,” Van Pelt said. “I felt like obviously when he hit it over the green on 16 I had my opportunity to take advantage. That's all I was trying to do. I felt like on the back nine if I could just keep putting pressure on him that maybe he'd give me an opening, and he did on 16. If I get the ball on the green there and make 5, who knows.”
Van Pelt added that he wouldn’t change any club he hit or change any line he took.
He’d certainly take a different result, of course, especially on the 16th.
”A yard to the right, that ball ends up in a pretty easy spot,” Van Pelt said of his 6-iron approach.
The ball wasn’t in a great lie -- it was sitting up, but there was a clump of grass in front of it -- and Van Pelt was forced to stand in the bunker with the ball well above his feet.
”If I hit that chip a little too hard it goes over the green because you can't put any spin on it,” he said. “I was just trying to get the ball up in the air and play it out to the right a little bit and just got underneath it a little bit.”
As Van Pelt said, it happens.
“We grinded, we competed, and it was just a matter of making the key putt or a key up-and-down and not making too many mistakes,” Woods said. “I figured it was going to come down to probably the last five or six holes and it ended coming down to, what, the last three holes where the tournament swung.”
The loss will sting for a couple of days, Van Pelt admitted. But not much longer than that.
He certainly seemed to relish the spotlight playing alongside Woods.
“It's a lot of fun,” said Van Pelt, who has known Woods since his college days. “That's why you travel 30 weeks a year, why you get up in the morning and you make the sacrifices that you do to have the opportunity to play the best player in the world in the final round with a chance to win a tournament. I was looking forward to it. The energy level is great. The crowd was great. It just didn’t work out.”
BETHESDA, Md. -- Tiger Woods and Bo Van Pelt share what’s become a three-shot lead for both players as they come down the stretch at Congressional Country Club.
Will Woods get his third win of the year and second AT&T National title here, or will Van Pelt get his first victory since 2009?
Share your thoughts below.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- With a victory today at the AT&T National, Tiger Woods would surpass Jack Nicklaus and move one step closer to Sam Snead’s record for career wins on the PGA TOUR. Snead had 82 wins in his career, and Woods has 73.
In those 73 wins, Woods, who trails by a stroke, has come from behind 22 times when trailing going into the last round.
A win here would also give Woods three on the year -- more than any other player on TOUR this season.
The last time this tournament was played here, in 2009, Woods won.
As for Bo Van Pelt, who is tied with Woods, his lone victory on TOUR came at the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
This year, he had five top-10 finishes, including a tie for seventh at THE PLAYERS Championship.
At the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, Van Pelt opened with a 76 but rebounded with rounds of 67-68-71 to finish in a tie for 14th. In five previous AT&T Nationals, his best finish was a tie for 11th each of the last two years when it was played at Aronimink Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Bo Van Pelt seems to be comfortable at Congressional Country Club no matter what the conditions.
A year ago, he tied for 14th in the U.S. Open here, playing his last three rounds at par or better.
Van Pelt also made it through two British Open qualifiers here.
Thursday, he shot a 4-under 67 to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the AT&T National, where scoring was as high as the temperatures on a hot day in suburban Washington, D.C.
Congressional played more than 2 1/2 strokes over par and four players failed to break 80. Only 22 players in the field broke par.
“I said it last year, they needed one more year, and basically you could have a U.S. Open here this week if you wanted it,” Van Pelt said. “That's the way it's set up. The rough is very uniform, it's very thick. The greens are firm and they're fast. It's a great golf course, and when it's set up like that, it's going to play tough all week.”
Not that you could tell watching Van Pelt. He was the only player without a bogey on his scorecard Thursday.
He was also aided by an eagle on No. 1 -- his 10th hole of the day -- when he holed out from 93 yards.
“I actually thought it had kind of spun back in front of the hole, and all of a sudden this guy behind the green started going nuts,” Van Pelt said.
He also had two birdies on the day and took just 24 putts, tied for the fewest in the field.
“That's improved the most,” Van Pelt said. “I've stuck with one putter since last year in the fall, and it's probably the longest stretch I've done that since I was a kid.”
But just how hard did Congressional play?
“Probably not,” Van Pelt said when asked if he’d played a tougher course this year. “I would say Olympic maybe it was hard, in a different way, but that's all you want out there right now for sure.”