Published November 20, 2014
Bo Van Pelt carded a 4-under 67 on Thursday during tough conditions to grab the lead after one round of the AT&T National.
With the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club causing fits for much of the field, Van Pelt didn't stumble to a single bogey. That helped him climb to the top of the leaderboard, perhaps more than anything, but his eagle at the first hole didn't hurt.
Van Pelt owns one PGA Tour victory, which came at the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. But he's frequently been in the hunt this season, with five top-10s.
The 37-year-old holds a one-stroke advantage over three-time major winner Vijay Singh, Brendon de Jonge and Jimmy Walker, all of whom shot a 3-under 68.
Jimmy Walker, Billy Hurley III and Pat Perez share fifth place at minus-2, while defending champion Nick Watney is part of a large group tied for eighth at 1-under 70.
Tournament host Tiger Woods struggled to a 1-over 72 on Thursday, when he hit 11 greens in regulation.
"It was a pretty good grind out there," Woods said. "Not a lot of low scores on this golf course, especially this afternoon. It was baked out, the ball was springy, and it's hard to believe that 4-under par is leading."
Like Woods, Van Pelt hit 11 greens in regulation, but he managed to avoid bogeys, starting with his first hole, the 10th. He drove his ball into the rough at the par-3, but got his second within four feet of the hole and made the par-saving putt.
He followed that up with six more pars in a row, which included a few more par saves -- including one from a fairway bunker -- and a couple missed birdie chances.
But Van Pelt got under par at the par-4 17th, where he rolled in a seven- footer for birdie.
At the 18th, he hit his second into a greenside bunker before saving par to stay at minus-1 around the turn.
He then leapt up the leaderboard with an eagle at hole No. 1. He crushed a 318-yard drive to leave himself with 93 yards to the hole at the par-4, then holed his second shot.
"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. "Yeah, you never know when those are going to happen, so it's nice to get a deuce."
Van Pelt got further under par at the next hole, a par-3. He hit his tee shot 16 feet behind the pin on the green, then made the putt. The Indiana native was able to stay at minus-4 after parring out, though needed to make a few more saves along the way.
Singh started at the first hole, which he birdied before giving the stroke back at the third. He drained three birdies in a row from the sixth, then reached minus-4 after chipping in for birdie at 10.
But he lost the majority of that progress with three consecutive bogeys from the 11th. Singh did birdie two of his final three holes to make up some ground before going into the clubhouse.
"I thought I was going to go out and really shoot a low one, and then I bogeyed three in a row after that," Singh said of the 10th hole. "You've got to be patient. You've got to keep calm out there. I gathered myself and made some more birdies coming in."
De Jonge largely avoided mistakes during his round, which included five birdies and two bogeys. He started on the back nine and was actually tied with Van Pelt after making back-to-back birdies from the fourth, but a bogey at eight put him into a share of second.
"It's such a difficult golf course," de Jonge said. "My misses were in the right place for the most part, and I just had to scramble."
Walker poured in four birdies on the front nine to match Van Pelt, but couldn't sustain the momentum during his final nine holes. He parred the first eight, then bogeyed the par-4 last after driving near the trees and hitting his second into the rough.
"It burned out right there in front of the green," Walker said. "I thought I hit a good chip, just didn't quite make it up the hill. I hit a good putt, it just didn't go in. I just played a little too much break, hit it perfect. But all in all, it was an awesome day."
In addition to Watney, Davis Love III, Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson are part of the 15-man tie for eighth.
NOTES: Teenage amateur Beau Hossler, who was in contention for the U.S. Open title two weeks ago, shot a round of even-par 71...This is the first year Congressional is hosting the tournament since 2009.