Bo Van Pelt Leads At The Buick Open

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) -- Bo Van Pelt's career and life are likely mysteries for even die-hard fans of the PGA Tour.
He's hoping to change that.
Van Pelt took a two-shot lead into Saturday's third round of the Buick Open, giving himself a shot at winning his first tournament in seven years.
His 14-under 130 was his best 36-hole performance, and this year on the PGA Tour only K.J. Choi's 129 after two rounds tops Van Pelt's start at Warwick Hills.
But Van Pelt knows he has more work to do.
He came up short of claiming a title at the Puerto Rico Open, where he led for three-plus rounds before losing by a stroke to first-time winner Greg Kraft.
"The more I put myself in that position, one of these Sundays is going to be my day," he said.
If Van Pelt can hang on to win the Buick Open, he will earn $900,000 and suddenly will have his story told.
"I've got three kids, went to Oklahoma State. Pretty much just a normal, Midwestern guy, I guess," he said simply
The Buick Open isn't generating much interest at Warwick Hills or elsewhere because knee surgery knocked Tiger Woods out of the tournament, but Van Pelt is doing his best to make a name for himself with a bogey-free 36 holes after starting the week 108th on the money list.
Van Pelt and wife Carrie sell nutritional products and his father is a former NFL player.
No, not five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brad Van Pelt.
It's Bob Van Pelt, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967.
"My dad's line is that Brad Van Pelt played about 15 years in the league and he played 15 minutes," he cracked.
Daniel Chopra (67) and Dudley Hart (68) went into the weekend at 12 under, two shots behind Van Pelt.
Woody Austin (67) was another stroke back along with Matt Jones (63).
With rain in the forecast, threesomes were grouped together instead of twosomes and went off both tees in the hopes of completing the third round Saturday.
While some relative unknowns fill the leaderboard, the top players in a lackluster field failed to dominate during the first two rounds.
Jim Furyk (No. 12), Justin Leonard (No. 23) and Kenny Perry (No. 27) are the only players among the top 30 in the world at Warwick Hills, where just nine of the top 50 players in the world ranking are competing.
Perry (67) fared the best of the trio of standouts, trailing Van Pelt by six shots entering Saturday. Leonard (68) was nine strokes back, and Furyk was another shot behind after following up a solid first round with an even-par 72.
Rocco Mediate (69) made the cut at 4 under in his first tournament since pushing Woods for five-plus rounds in the U.S. Open before coming up just short in a dramatic matchup watched by millions.
"I got some sleep and I played a little bit better," Mediate said.
Chopra, who ended the first round only a stroke behind the leaders, stayed in contention with another strong round thanks in part to a crafty shot at the par-3 eighth. With his ball on the lip of a greenside bunker, Chopra hit his second shot from both knees outside the sand to set up a gimme for par.
"It's a shot I used to play and practice as a kid," Chopra said. "We used to have little chipping games around the greens and used to find the most difficult spots.
"I nearly holed it, so it worked out just perfect."
A morning tee time also helped Chopra because it gave him an opportunity to drive about an hour away to check out the TPC Michigan, where he hopes to qualify for the British Open on Monday.
Chopra won the PGA Tour's season-opening event at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, but has failed to crack the top 30 in any tournament since.
Hart has won twice on the PGA Tour, with the last victory coming in 2000 at the Honda Classic. His highlight this year was a third-place finish at Pebble Beach.
Austin was making a run at Van Pelt early in his round when went 6 under over a five-hole stretch, but then he parred 10 straight holes and bogeyed his last one to fall to 11 under.
"I didn't take full advantage of having it going," Austin said.
Brian Bateman became the fourth Buick Open defending champion to miss the cut and the first in a decade. Now, a shoulder injury might put him on the shelf soon.
"I thought in the last few weeks that it was time just to have the surgery and then call it a year," he said. "But I really wanted to play here and really wanted to try to defend."


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