Bo Van Pelt is finally getting a handle on his 2014 game.
Since changing putters in March, the Tulsa, Okla., resident has made five PGA Tour cuts in eight tries. Van Pelt’s 2-under 68 Friday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial has him in a tie for fourth at 5-under 135.
“It was kind of a shaky start to the year, but I feel like I’ve corrected some of the problems,” Van Pelt said. “My ball-striking is definitely coming around. It’s just nice to shoot some red numbers.”
Van Pelt went from a traditional short putter to the longer Bettinardi brand. The putter’s handle rests on the left forearm for right-handed players.
“The ball is rolling end over end, and I feel like that’s what good putters do,” said Van Pelt, who has seven birdies and just two bogeys through 36 holes. “To me I needed a change and I tried it, and so far so good.”
Beginning in 2016, golf’s two governing bodies will ban the anchoring of long putters and belly putters against the body. PGA Tour officials said Friday that Van Pelt’s club and putting style would continue to be legal.
“I was looking for a spark. Picked it up and I just was really impressed with the roll I was getting,” said Van Pelt, who extended his Colonial cut streak to 11 straight. “I’m still learning with it, but I like it, so I just keep working at it every day.”
Holy red-hot putter
Chris Stroud made five putts of 20 feet or longer Friday, including a 56-footer on No. 4 and a 34-footer on No. 8.
“I made a ton of long putts,” said Stroud, who is tied for second at 135 and needed just 24 putts to complete the second round. “When you’re making all your 20-, 30- and 50-footers, that’s when it’s crazy. It was a lot of fun.”
He also rolled in a 22-footer on No. 1, 26-footer on 6, and a 23-footer on 16.
Add up the 24 putts, and Stroud made 220 feet, 8 inches of putts. Since the PGA Tour started using laser data in 2003, Stroud’s performance is second only to Brent Geiberger’s 240 feet, 4 inches of putts made at the 2006 Booz Allen in round one.
“I was so relaxed out there,” Stroud said. “It’s obviously a little luck. I never really hit a bad putt, so I’m really happy with that.”
Colleyville resident Chad Campbell took a positive step toward reviving his PGA Tour career, posting a second-round 66 that placed him among seven players tied for fourth at 5-under 135.
Campbell finished 136th in the FedEx Cup standings last season, dropping him into the conditional status category. He received an exemption into this year’s Colonial.
“Got off to a good start down on the front nine,” said Campbell, “then birdied 10 and struggled there for a few holes and was able to birdie the last two holes, so it was a nice way to end the day and get ready for the weekend.”
The experience of playing in his first PGA event was the most special part of TCU junior Julien Brun’s two days at Colonial, even though he shot a 13-over 153, missing the cut by a lengthy margin.
Nothing exemplified that more than teeing off on Colonial’s famous No. 13, the “party hole.”
“It’s like you’re playing in a stadium,” Brun said. “All those guys are drunk and don’t really care that you’re playing. That was pretty cool. That was like the true experience of the tournament probably.”
But the process of gaining that experience was Brun’s biggest flaw too.
“Mentally I really need to improve and be more comfortable out there,” Brun said.
“But being more comfortable out there is about playing here. It was my first step to getting more comfortable.”
However, his nervous play didn’t outweigh the support he felt from his friends and the TCU community Thursday and Friday.
“Playing in front of the TCU crowd — all my friends and my teammates — gave me support all the way, even at the end when I was playing bad,” Brun said. “They still stayed there. That was pretty awesome for sure.”