Golf: Bo Van Pelt

Zach Johnson in contention again

May, 25, 2012

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Zach Johnson is in great shape, but then he knows all about being in great shape after finishing runner-up in two of his past three PGA Tour starts.

At 9 under, Johnson is alone in second place, 2 shots behind leader and last week's Byron Nelson champ Jason Dufner, after two rounds at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Johnson led Dufner by 1 shot after Thursday's opening round and it certainly looked as though Johnson might power ahead of Dufner (who shot a 64 playing in the morning) early in his afternoon round Friday.

[+] EnlargeZach Johnson
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezZach Johnson acknowledges fans at Colonial after sinking a putt on No. 13 for one if his four second-round birdies.
Johnson, playing in his first tournament since The Players Championship on May 13, where he tied for second, eagled out of the gate and then birdied to quickly cut into Dufner's lead and get to minus-9. But he bogeyed No. 3 and then made par on the next seven holes.

He had the disadvantage of an afternoon start Friday, a day that grew gustier, making for tougher conditions. The morning groups dealt with less wind and cooler temperatures. Johnson is 2 shots ahead of Bo Van Pelt and Tommy Gainey and 3 in front of Tom Gillis.

Starting with the par-5 No. 11, Johnson went birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey and then managed one last birdie on No. 16 to get back to 9 under. He missed a short birdie putt on 18 as the ball just skirted along the left side of the hole.

"It seems like every time I made a birdie I put myself in a pretty difficult predicament to make par," Johnson said. "I finished strong: a good save on 15, a good birdie on 16 and another good save on 17. And 18, I'll take a 4 there. I hit a good putt, misread it. I'm excited about [Saturday]."

Johnson, with three top-10 finishes but no victories this season, is counting on his experience on the Colonial course to get him over the hump for the first time this season and into a second plaid jacket in three years.

He will pair with Dufner for Round 3 as Dufner looks to keep the lead and continue his quest for the rare DFW double. Only 14 golfers have won both the HP Byron Nelson and Colonial, and only Ben Hogan in 1946 won both in the same season.

"It doesn't matter who I play with," Johnson said. "Certainly, Jason and I are buddies. I will enjoy playing with him because he is a friend. It's nothing more than that. He's got a good rhythm about it, about his game right now. Certainly confidence, that's always fun to watch, but it's irrelevant who I play with. I'm not playing against him. I'm playing against the golf course and the conditions and the elements that are presented. So that's my focus."

Bo Van Pelt in contention after 64

May, 25, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bo Van Pelt bolted into contention at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial with a 6-under 64 on Friday, matching Jason Dufner for the low round of the day with half the field still on the course.

Van Pelt made seven birdies and a bogey to leapfrog into a tie for third at 7-under par through 36 holes.

“I hit the ball well all day,’’ said Van Pelt, who birdied the first two holes on both sides.

In his opening round, Van Pelt hit the first 15 greens in regulation but was only 1-under.

"I felt if I start the ball the same and just made a few putts I could shoot 3- or 4-under,'' Van Pelt said.

After needing 32 putts Thursday, he made it around in 29 in the second round.

“Up to a point it has been my best year as a putter,’’ Van Pelt said. “I’ve been sticking to the fundamentals. I just got a little bit sloppy in my setup. I’ve been working with that and today I felt a lot better. I just hope to get more and more comfortable and make a few on the weekend.’’

Old-style Colonial Country Club is a favorite for Van Pelt. He has 13 consecutive rounds in the 60s.

“This golf course is a gem,’’ he said. “I love playing here. We don’t get to play too many like this. I’m just hitting fairways and greens. That’s the key to this golf course, if you put it in the right spot. If you don’t, it’s hard to put it on the green and the chips out of the Bermuda grass are tough. If you’re like a Dufner, a great ball-striker, or Zach Johnson, I played with him on Tuesday. He was striking it great. It doesn’t surprise me that he is up there.’’

Notes: Bo Van Pelt heats up after eagle

May, 22, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bo Van Pelt holed a 141-yard pitching wedge for eagle at No. 10 to kick-start a blazing 5-under 30 on his final nine at the Crowne Plaza Invitational Sunday.

“I hit a hybrid off the tee and landed in the first cut and had a good lie,’’ Van Pelt said. "It was the perfect distance for the pitching wedge, but you never know exactly how it will come out. But it landed on the front of the green and rolled in like a putt.’’

He added birdies on No. 11, 14, 17 and 18 along with a bogey on No. 12.

“It was a wild back nine and I feel like I’ve let a few rounds slip away this year, so to finish like this is nice,’’ Van Pelt said.

Van Pelt’s 65 was matched for the day's low round by Zach Johnson.


* The final round produced the highest daily scoring average of the tournament: 70.082. The par-4 fifth played the toughest at 4.247 and the par-5 first the easiest at 4.536.

* Eagles dropped from 24 last year to 14.

* David Toms’ statistics are indicative of his solid play. He was tied for fourth in driving accuracy and greens in regulation, seventh in strokes gained putting, tied for ninth in putts per round and 27th in driving distance.