Having formed a 20-year friendship dating back to Woods’ career at Stanford, while Van Pelt was at OSU, the pair was chatty on Saturday. They virtually had the course to themselves due to storm damage that prevented fans from attending the third round.
Van Pelt joked that Woods finally got to experience the type of gallery he plays in front of every week.
“We give each other a hard time and tell jokes,” Van Pelt said. “It seems we both play pretty well the times we play together.”
Ranked 16th on this year’s money list ($2.13 million), Van Pelt has six top-10 finishes, most on tour.
“I take a lot of pride in my consistency,” Van Pelt said. “I’ve had the same coach, Mark Wood, since 2000. We’ve been real consistent with our thoughts on my long game. That’s what’s helped me be consistent.
“If my golf swing gets a little off, we can fix it in the middle of a round. That helps me to not have big lulls. That’s a big factor. Plus, I like different types of golf courses, whether it’s a short course like Colonial or a longer course.”
Van Pelt has carved out a trademark. He didn’t chew gum while playing until his caddie offered him some earlier this year. Van Pelt chomped on gum Saturday.
“It actually helps my rhythm,” Van Pelt said. “I’ve had people tell me I need to stop, and other people think it’s funny. But in the near future I’ll probably be still chewing some when I play.”
Van Pelt will take the next two weeks off before playing in four consecutive tournaments, starting with the British Open. This week, he will relax. Next week, he’ll work on his game before flying overseas to Lancashire’s Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club.
“I’m pleased with all the good shots I hit under pressure,” Van Pelt said. “That’s the ultimate test of where your game is. It’s like (former OSU) Coach (Mike) Holder used to tell us, ‘You’re either getting better or getting worse. You’re never the same.’
“There are always things you want to improve on, but I don’t feel I have a glaring weakness. I feel very comfortable right now. Hopefully, I can keep putting myself in position to win one.”