Tiger Woods was locked in another Sunday duel that helped TV ratings soar. This duel, at the AT&T National, Woods was matched against former Oklahoma State star Bo Van Pelt.
In what essentially turned into a match-play back-nine, Van Pelt equaled Woods shot for shot before Van Pelt bogeyed the final three holes.
Woods captured his 74th title, surpassing Jack Nicklaus for second-most PGA Tour wins. Van Pelt posted his 16th top-10 finish since 2010, most among any player without a victory over that span.
“The ultimate goal is to win golf tournaments,” Van Pelt said Monday in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. “But my goal each week is put myself in position to win. I figure the more times I do that the better chance I'll have to win one.”
The focus was on Woods, but it was Van Pelt who produced drama Sunday at steamy Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.
Three times Woods took the lead the final round. Each time, Van Pelt answered with a birdie, including a birdie on the par-4 No. 15 to get to 9-under.
The defining moment was the 579-yard, par-5 No. 16.
Van Pelt, from Tulsa, was in position to take the lead after Woods' approach shot rolled down the slope behind the green. Van Pelt failed to capitalize when his 6-iron landed in the rough next to the green.
His feet planted in a sand trap, the ball sitting knee high, Van Pelt advanced the ball only five feet. His next attempt, a flop shot, rolled 12 feet past the hole. Both players bogeyed the hole.
“I was trying to get the ball up in the air and got underneath it a little,” Van Pelt said. “I thought I hit my second one great. I was surprised it rolled that far. And the putt, I've probably never hit a better putt in my life under those kind of circumstances.”
It was Van Pelt's third career second-place finish. He owns one career win, capturing the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee three years ago.
“If you put me back in the same spot, I'd try to hit every shot the same again today,” Van Pelt said. “I had a couple that didn't come off the way I wanted, but I wouldn't change the way I played them. That helps me deal with the loss a little better. Every time you put yourself in that position you learn from it.”
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