DUBLIN, Ohio – For Bo Van Pelt it was look in the mirror time, both figuratively and literally.
After another lackluster season the veteran had just missed his ninth cut this year at the Crowne Plaza Invitational when his swing coach Mark Wood called.
“He was like, ‘Man, you did a great job hanging in there. I'm coming to Tulsa [Okla.],” Van Pelt recalled. “He's like, ‘You're going to see me every week until we get this figured out.’”
The duo found a quiet practice range near Van Pelt’s house in Tulsa and quickly realized what the problem was, at least mechanically.
“You can kind of fake it and act like it's not that bad, and then I looked in the mirror and I'm like, ‘Man, that's terrible, no wonder you're not playing any good,’” Van Pelt said. “I guess I kind of needed that.”
The swing epiphany also wrested Van Pelt out of a mental slump he said he’d been mired in and the result was his best round in years on Thursday at the Memorial (64) that included 10 birdies and two bogeys.
His 8-under 64 gave Van Pelt, who birdied five consecutive holes starting at the fifth, a share of the lead with defending champion Hideki Matsuyama. It was a dramatic turnaround from where his game and head has been the last few years.
“I think my rookie year I was 23. I'm 40 this year. I added it up, 40 percent of my life I've been out here doing this,” said Van Pelt. “I think at some point you go, ‘Man, maybe I should just go do something else.’”
The timing was perfect for Van Pelt, who grew up in Richmond, Ind., about two hours from Muirfield Village and would skip school to attend the Memorial when he was younger.
In 11 starts at Jack’s Place, Van Pelt has seven top-25 finishes and missed the cut just twice.
“This is really where I started dreaming about playing professional golf,” said Van Pelt, who has just one top-10 finish on Tour this season. “Other than the Masters, this tournament means more to me than any one I've ever played.”