April 30, 2010
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Charlotte, NC – Bo Van Pelt fired a seven-under 65 to take the first-round lead Thursday at the Quail Hollow Championship.
Twenty-seven players were within five shots of Van Pelt’s lead, but only one of them was closer than two. And embattled world No. 1 Tiger Woods was nine strokes back.
Kenny Perry eagled his 16th hole to tie Van Pelt, but flubbed a shot on the next hole and made bogey, ending one stroke off the pace at six-under 66.
Camilo Villegas was next with a 67, while Geoff Ogilvy, Paul Goydos, Billy Mayfair, Andres Romero, Brad Faxon and J.J. Henry were knotted at 68.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson, playing for the first time since Augusta, reached as low as four-under par before ending his round with back-to-back bogeys for a 70.
Woods labored to a two-over 74 that included back-to-back tee shots into the water and was nowhere near the lead in his first start since the Masters.
He striped his first tee shot down the No. 10 fairway to open the tournament with a birdie, but made a bogey two holes later and never got back under par.
Struggling with his shot direction all day, Woods was done in by a three-hole stretch around the turn that included tee shots into the water hazards at 17 and 18.
Those wet shots led to a double-bogey the par-three 17th and a bogey at the 18th. After he also bogeyed No. 1 — his 10th hole — Woods was four-over par and tumbling down the leaderboard.
“A lot of mistakes,” said Woods, the 2007 Quail Hollow champion. “I didn’t hit the ball very good at all today.”
Meanwhile, Van Pelt has rarely hit it better. He had seven birdies to come within one shot of tying the course record that he shares with Kirk Triplett and Rory Sabbatini.
Van Pelt, who fired a 64 in the second round in 2006, is back using the putter he had in his bag when he captured his only PGA Tour win last year in Milwaukee.
The refurbished club served him well on the Quail Hollow greens, as Van Pelt took only 26 putts during the bogey-free effort.
“I think statistically I’m like second in total driving and about fourth in greens in regulation, so that hasn’t been holding me back,” said Van Pelt, who tied for third place in his last start at the Heritage two weeks ago. “It’s just converting on some of those (putting) opportunities.”
Van Pelt went 4-for-4 on the par fives, making birdies on each of them. He just missed a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 9 — his last hole — with a chance to extend his lead even further.
“I knew I was striking the ball well. My irons felt good, and I was driving the ball well,” said Van Pelt. “I just wanted to keep going forward. I didn’t really look at the [leaderboard], I just tried to take advantage of the opportunities I had, and this is one of those golf courses where if it’s going good, you’d better try to get it because it can jump up and grab you in a heartbeat.”
Woods rallied back to one-over par after his disastrous three-hole stretch around the turn, making birdies at Nos. 2, 5 and 8. But he closed with a bogey at No. 9 to shoot his worst score since a 75 in the final round of the PGA Championship.
That was the day Woods was upset by winner Y.E. Yang despite holding the third-round lead.
“One good round tomorrow could get me right back in it,” Woods said.
But first he will have to correct the control problem that had him guessing all day whether his balls would travel left or right off the club. Woods wasn’t interested in working on the problem right away, saying “The hell with it” about going to the range afterward.
“I’m just going to go hang it up today and come out tomorrow,” he said.
NOTES: Mickelson played despite leaving the pro-am Wednesday to be treated for dehydration…Defending champion Sean O’Hair, who netted his first $1 million paycheck when he won last year, opened with an even-par 72…Triplett and Sabbatini carded their 64s in 2004 and 2007, respectively…The 34-year-old Van Pelt also won once on the Nationwide Tour in 2003.