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."