TW - Bo Van Pelt knows where he's heading, at home or on tour

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Oct 13, 2003
Stillwater, OK
Bo Van Pelt knows where he's heading, at home or on tour

By DAVE SITTLER World Sports Writer

Bo knows Tulsa. But how many around here know Bo?

Tiger Woods knows all about Bo Van Pelt. But few Tulsans are aware that the highest paid active professional athlete living among us is the former Oklahoma State All-American golfer.

"Other than a couple neighbors right around me," Van Pelt said, "nobody knows what I do for a living."

Van Pelt has plied his trade this year to the point he has earned nearly $1 million. He also played well enough two weeks ago to be paired with Woods in the final round of the Memorial Tournament.

Van Pelt, who is No. 45 on the PGA money list with $899,685, knows he's close to becoming one of the PGA Tour's most consistent players. He hoped he'd break through this week and become a household name around T-Town and the nation.

But after playing in four consecutive majors, Van Pelt's streak ended when he didn't qualify for the U.S. Open, which starts Thursday in Pinehurst, N.C.

So the Richmond, Ind., native is spending some quality down time this week with his wife and two young children in his adopted hometown of Bixby. He's also working on his game at his new "home" course, the Golf Club of Oklahoma, the magnificent
layout 10 minutes from his house.

"I feel very fortunate to have played four majors in a row," Van Pelt said. "It's going to be weird not playing this week. But it just makes you want to work harder."

Van Pelt has been grinding at the pro level since he graduated from OSU. After turning pro in 1998, Bo has known disappointment and triumph as he relentlessly pursued his goal of being one of the tour's best players.

The 30-year-old Van Pelt made it look easy when he earned his Tour card in his first attempt in the qualifying tournament. But when he twice lost the card by not finishing among the top 125 on the money list, Van Pelt retreated to the Nationwide Tour to rebuild his game and confidence.

His first professional win, the Nationwide 2003 Omaha Classic, reignited a career that has soared ever since. The victory enabled him to regain his card for the 2004 season, when he earned $1,553,825.

It was also last year that Van Pelt launched his run of four consecutive majors. He finished tied for 30th at the British Open, tied for 31st at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, and then missed the cut at this year's Masters.

Van Pelt hoped to extend that string via a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifying tournament June 6 in Columbus, Ohio. But fatigue finally caught up with him after the most exhilarating week of his professional life.

After he missed the first four cuts this season, Van Pelt was on a roll when he arrived in Dublin, Ohio, for the Memorial. Playing just 100 miles from where he grew up, Van Pelt put together his third top-10 finish in his last six tournaments.

His tie for third behind winner Bart Bryant was his best Tour finish and earned him $286,000. And while he has known Woods since they played in junior and college tournaments, Sunday at the Memorial was the first time he'd played a competitive round with the international superstar.

"We had a blast," Van Pelt said of his pairing with the world's new No. 1-ranked player. "Tiger was great. Both of us were hitting the ball well and were trying to make a charge to win the golf tournament."

Van Pelt's emotional high came crashing down one day later. After opening with 3-under 69 in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier, he closed with a 75.

"I was worn out," he said. "I had just had a chance to win a tournament and had expended a lot of energy."

Van Pelt rebounded to play steady golf at last week's Booz Allen Classic in Bethesda, Md. His 3-under total at Congressional Country Club tied for 41st and paid $19,000.

Although he'd prefer to be in Pinehurst, N.C., this week, Van Pelt is delighted to be with his wife, Carrie, and their 4-year-old daughter Olivia and 2-year-old son Trace.

Carrie Van Pelt is a Tulsa Union graduate who met her future husband at OSU. With Bo on the road so much, the couple figured living near Carrie's family was the perfect solution.

"I've really grown to love Tulsa and Oklahoma," Van Pelt said. "All of our friends are people my wife went to elementary school with.

"We really have a good time with them, and it's a good way for us to get away from golf."

Van Pelt doesn't stray too far from the game. That's why he's grateful to have the Golf Club of Oklahoma nearby.

"It's a great facility; you can practice every shot you want," Van Pelt said. "And the people out there have been like family to me."

Van Pelt returns to the Tour next week at the Barclays Classic in Harrison, N.Y. The following Monday, he will try to start a new streak of major appearances by attempting to qualify for next month's British Open.

He likes his chances the rest of this year because he feels experience and maturity are now working in his favor. The next step is posting his first Tour victory at one of 10 to 15 tournament stops around the country left on his 2005 schedule.

No matter where the Tour takes him, Van Pelt said he'll always return to the Tulsa area.

"We love it here; this is where we want to raise our kids," he said. "We'll live here forever."

So Bo knows where he's headed personally and professionally. And it'll be a blast when more people around here get to know Bo Van Pelt and follow his exciting journey.
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Jul 23, 2004
Bo is a great guy, and one of the most laid back individuals you will ever meet. He is alot like Couples in that he seems to have effortless power in his game. I had the opportunity to know and party with Bo while in school, and wish him the very best on tour.
Oct 16, 2003
Wichita, KS
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Bo is a great guy. I had the honor of knowing him in college too. I followed him when he played on the nation wide tour in Wichita a couple of years ago. He went out of his way to talk to me and introduced himself to my wife in the middle of the round.