Van Pelt takes control as Overton lurks

Bo Van Pelt © Khalid Redza / Asian Tour

Kuala Lumpur: American Bo Van Pelt overcame a sluggish start to storm into the third round lead at the US$6.1 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia on a day local hero Danny Chia raised the roof at The Mines Resort and Golf Club.

Van Pelt bogeyed his opening two holes but showed his class with six birdies to take a one-shot lead from halfway pacesetter Jeff Overton, who battled to a 69 in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson and American Mark Wilson shared third place, three behind Van Pelt, while Chia produced a superb 66 for equal fifth position with playing partner Vijay Singh of Fiji and Jason Dufner of the United States.

An in-form Van Pelt, who notched two top-10s in the recent FedEx Cup play-offs, showed wonderful composure to overcome the worst possible start. The 36-year-old, who has one win on the PGA Tour, said: “I think the biggest thing today is I didn’t make a big deal out of it. So I made two bogeys. It’s not the end of the world. There’s a lot of golf left.

“I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned, experience-wise. As much as golf as I’ve played, in the times I’ve let a bad start lead to a bad round, it was probably when I made too big a deal out of it, got upset or got quicker (in my swing). I think today was just a good example of not making a big deal out of it and trying to hit good golf shots.”

With a top cheque of US$1.3 million at stake tomorrow, Van Pelt said he would be driven by winning a second career title rather than the money in the bank.

“It’s not about the money. Like my grandpa said, you can’t take it with you. It’s never made a big deal to me, I guess,” said Van Pelt.

“Obviously any time you’re near the lead with 18 to go, you’re excited. That’s why we practice and why we enter tournaments. That’s all you can ask for, to have a chance to win on Sunday. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a while since I won a golf tournament, so it would be great.”

Jeff Overton © Khalid Redza / Asian Tour

After a course record 62 on day two, Overton managed only three birdies in the third round but none was more important than the six-foot conversion at the last hole.

“On 18, I saw Bo was two up and I thought I needed to get to within one and I know he was swinging it really well. I didn’t want him to get away too far,” said Overton, who is chasing a first career victory.

“Didn’t have the kick in like I had yesterday. It wasn’t my day on the greens … didn’t make anything.”

The former Ryder Cup player was looking forward to a final day duel with Van Pelt. “It’s crazy. We’re from the same state, Indiana and probably the only two players in the field or on Tour from Indiana. To actually come all the way here, a 12 hour time change, halfway around the world to play golf with each other, it’ll be fun,” said Overton.

Leading third round scores
197 – Bo VAN PELT (USA) 66-64-67
198 – Jeff OVERTON (USA) 67-62-69
200 – Mark WILSON (USA) 67-66-67, Fredrik JACOBSON (SWE) 65-64-71
202 – Jason DUFNER (USA) 70-67-65, Danny CHIA (MAS) 71-65-66, Vijay SINGH (FIJ) 72-64-66
203 – Ryan PALMER (USA) 71-65-67, Chris KIRK (USA) 71-65-67, Camilo VILLEGAS (COL) 69-66-68