The 2014 FedEx Cup Playoffs are underway at the Barclays, and your first-round leader is Bo Van Pelt. Starting at 104th on the points list at the Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, Van Pelt shot a bogey-free six under par 65 on Thursday afternoon and takes a one-shot into day two on Friday.
The 39 year-old Van Pelt loves the Tillinghast designs like the Ridgewood Country Club, and it showed when he got off to a birdie-birdie-birdie start that ended with a flurry and an eagle at the par five 17th hole. The tree-lined fairways remind Bo of a layout where he played as a youngster in Indiana.
He will tee it up on Friday with a one-shot lead over eight players who are a five under par that includes 2010 FedEx Cup champ, Jim Furyk.
“Once I knew I was getting here, that was a big relief with how poorly I started, and I was just having fun with it,” said Van Pelt,
If the Oklahoma State Grad can hang on for a victory, he would become only the fourth player in the short history of the event to become a bubble-buster with a win in the playoffs. Camilo Villegas in 2008 at the BMW Championship, Heath Slocum in the 2009 Barclays, and Justin Rose at 2011 BMW Championship were the others.
If he can’t hang on for the victory at Ridgewood, Van Pelt needs to finish 49th or better to move on next week to TPC Boston, and The Deutsche Bank Championship.
Van Pelt played alongside of Camilo Villegas last Sunday when the Columbian broke a four-year drought and won the Wyndham Championship.
“I felt like I played really well on Sunday — just didn’t convert,” Van Pelt said. “So things have kind of been trending I guess in a lot better direction. … I felt fortunate to be here with the position I was in three months ago.
“So I just felt like if I kept doing what I was doing, hopefully I would at least get to next week and then kind of cross that bridge when I got there. So I was just kind of enjoying, my game felt good.”
Hunter Mahan, who has played in every FedEx Cup event since it’s inception, is one of those players one-stroke back, and is looking to improve his 66th place seeding, and maybe catch Ryder Cup Captain, Tom Watson’s eye as one of the three Captain’s picks.
Had it not been for a bogey at the 12th hole, the 32 year-old Mahan would have joined Bo Van Pelt as an overnight 36-hole leader.
Hunter Mahan has only five top ten finishes in the 2014 season with no wins, and five missed cuts. He withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the final round but would be a good pick for the Ryder Cup if he could end the season with a flurry during the playoffs.
Most of the top players in the world finished at, or below par in the first round except the World’s number one, Rory McIlroy. The 25 year-old super-star got off to a shaky start on Thursday. McIlroy stared his day on the back-nine, and was four over par when he made the turn. He picked up a couple of birdies on the front to go along with another bogey.
He finished his day at three over par, and is three shots off of the projected cut line at even par.