PERTH INTERNATIONAL: Bo’s itching to go
Bo Van Pelt spent last Saturday like most dads with sports minded kids. He watched his kids play soccer and made a beeline for the airport halfway through the third match.
Now, after flying 33 hours from his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 38-year-old says he is itching to get started in the defence of his ISPS Handa Perth International title at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
“I flew from Tulsa to Dallas, Dallas to Brisbane and then on to Perth. It was 33 hours … when you’re coming that far you hope everything goes smoothly and it did,” he said.
Last year, his clubs were lost in transit and he was reunited with them less than 24 hours before the first round. Over the next four days, Van Pelt came out on top of an all-American battle with Jason Dufner to win with a total of 16-under par.
But this time around he has his clubs and his defence is already going smoothly.
He had no such worries this time around.
“All my flights were on time and there was little turbulence … and the clubs were there. It was nice or everything to just go smoothly,” he said.
And what about the jetlag?
“Fortunately throughout my career I feel pretty good when I get to places,” Van Pelt said. “I’ve been able to sleep on planes and like most guys out here we’ve been doing this for a while so you get used to sleeping in different beds and playing in different time zones.
“Now, as I get older, sometimes when I go home for a couple of days I don’t feel that great. But, for whatever reason, when I get to places for a tournament the jetlag and time difference doesn’t seem to bother me.
“Last year I didn’t get to Perth until Tuesday afternoon and I felt fine all through Wednesday, Thursday and on to Sunday. This week … got in Monday and the body feels pretty good. I got a little practice in yesterday and I’m looking forward to the week. I’ve had five or six weeks off and I’m itching to get going again.”
Van Pelt’s end to the 2013 PGA Tour season didn’t quite go to plan. He had been troubled with a sore Achilles Heal throughout the northern summer months and by the time he got to the PGA Championship in August he knew he was in trouble. He teed it up and struggled to get around for the first round, shooting a 10-over-par 80 at Oak Hill to put him last in the field. He could hardly walk so he withdrew from the championship.
He returned two weeks later at The Barclays and missed the cut with rounds of 70-76. The following week he finished tied for 53rd at the Deutsche Bank and played no further part in the FedEx play-offs.
“Playing some 30 weeks a year, practicing and walking, your body can get out of alignment a little bit and the pressure we put on our body, it just kind of caught up on me,” he said. “Fortunately I didn’t have any tears. I’ve never really had any injuries, knock on wood, in my career and that was the first time I have not been able to finish a tournament in my whole life going back 35 years. It was not something that was fun but it could have been a whole lot worse.”
But Van Pelt says the enforced break was good for him as he was able to rest his 192cm, 90kg frame and spend time with his family. This has put him in a refreshed state of mind for this week’s tilt at a second Perth International title, on a course that suits his eye.
“To me, Lake Karrinyup is pretty straight forward,” he said. “You’ve got a couple of blind tee shots coming up and over hills but I think you have to really think your way around and you have to position the ball, both on the fairway and on the greens, and that is something I have always enjoyed doing.
“This course just fits my eye, its an ambiguous thing to say but there are some courses you come to you can just see how your shots will go with the shape of the hole.”
Van Pelt did some PR work for the event, along with fellow American Dustin Johnson and local hero Brett Rumford, by hitting golf balls on Cottesloe Beach.
“I wish I didn’t have to work on my game ‘cause I would have loved to hang out and have some lunch down there,” he said.
The defending champion will tee off alongside Johnson and Rumford in the first round on Thursday at 6.30am (WST).