Wednesday October 24, 2012
Van Pelt all fired up for title defence
REPORTS by LIM TEIK HUAT and S. RAMAGURU
MINES RESORT AND GOLF CLUB (Oct 25-28)
KUALA LUMPUR: Bo Van Pelt, fresh from bagging the Perth International last weekend, is all fired up for a successful title defence at the US$6.1mil CIMB Classic starting tomorrow.
The affable American did not enjoy the opportunity of defending his two previous victories in the United States.
But with the privilege and fanfare of arriving in Malaysia as the defending champion, Van Pelt is hoping to savour the week and repeat his triumph after running away with a six-shot win last year.
“This is the first chance I’ve ever had to defend. I’ve only won a few tournaments. When I won on Nationwide (the secondary circuit in the US), the year after I was on the (PGA) Tour, and when I won in Milwaukee (2009), that tournament went away.
“This is a first for me, so I’m excited,” said Van Pelt, who is ranked 23rd in the world.
The 37-year-old has posted 10 top-10s on the PGA Tour this year and will find himself in illustrious company in the 48-man field.
World No. 2 Tiger Woods headlines the field, which includes ninth-ranked Jason Dufner, who finished second behind Van Pelt last week. Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant, who secured his third win of the season in India last Sunday, will spearhead the Asian Tour’s challenge at the Mines Resort.
Van Pelt is confident of extending his winning form.
“Last year was good for me. I think I had to go in on Sunday to have the lead and then to play well.
“There were a couple of times in my career where I’ve had leads and not played as well on Sunday. So, to play the way I did last year I think gave me some confidence going into this year,” he said.
“2012 was probably one of my most consistent years.
“So from that standpoint I was pleased with how I played. The down side is I did not win a tournament on the PGA Tour, so that was a negative.
“You want to try to get a victory when you’re that close.”
The American shot a 23-under 261 winning total last year but admitted it will be a level playing field when he begins his defence alongside 15-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn in the opening round tomorrow.
“I think there are so many great players in every tournament we get to play, to have a chance to win, you know you’re going to have to play great,” said Van Pelt.
“Last year doesn’t count for anything this year. We all start even par on Thursday morning.
“The golf course isn’t going to remember how I played last year. I’ve got to produce this year. I like the golf course. It’s really straightforward, and obviously I feel like I still have a pretty good game plan.
“Hopefully, I’ll just get used to the speed of the greens.
“That was kind of key for me last year here. I putted the ball well, and hopefully I can do it again this year,” he added.