Defending champ Van Pelt fires 62 to lead after third round of CIMB Classic

Bo Van Pelt at the CIMB Classic
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Bo Van Pelt teed off on the final hole needing a birdie to shoot a 59 Saturday at the CIMB Classic, but hit his approach into the greenside bunker and needed three putts to finish with a 62.
By
John Pye
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Bo Van Pelt missed a chance at a rare 59 on Saturday after a double-bogey on the 18th at the CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour.

Van Pelt, the defending champion, had four birdies in the first six holes, then five in a row from the eighth. After turning in 29 on the par-71 Mines Resort and Golf Club course, he had five birdies on the back nine and only needed one more birdie to join an elite club. But he hit his approach into the greenside bunker and needed three putts, finishing with a 9-under 62 for a share of the third-round lead with Robert Garrigus at 16 under.

CIMB CLASSIC

The PGA Tour-sanctioned CIMB Classic features a 48-player field competing in four rounds of stroke play with no cut.

"Obviously disappointed to finish with a double" bogey, Van Pelt said, "but I'm really proud of the 17 1/2 holes I played, and hopefully that'll carry on tomorrow, and not the last one."

Garrigus, who led by two strokes coming into the weekend, opened with a pair of bogeys but finished with three consecutive birdies for 69 on Saturday and a 54-hole total of 197. His fellow American Chris Kirk carded a 63 to move to 15 under, one clear of Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge and South Africa's Jbe Kruger.

Tiger Woods started aggressively with five birdies in the first eight holes, but had three bogeys and a double bogey on the back nine and finished at 69 to be in a group of five players tied at 11 under.

Only five players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events, the latest being Stuart Appleby at the 2010 Greenbrier Classic -- although it wouldn't have counted on Van Pelt's official statistics because the CIMB Classic, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, doesn't become a full-fledged PGA Tour event until next year. It wouldn't have counted on the Asian Tour, either, because preferred lies were allowed for the second consecutive round, where players could pick up, clean and replace their balls due to the soggy conditions caused by heavy overnight rain.

The 37-year-old American said his chance for a 59 vanished in the bunker.

"From there, I pretty much had nothing," he said, claiming that it wasn't nerves that got to him.

"Surprisingly, I wasn't really nervous at all. I've never had that good a chance to shoot a 59 before and, to be honest, I'll probably look back on it and think about the third hole," he said. "I had a 5-iron from the middle of the fairway and didn't make birdie. I'll look back at 15, I'm 30 yards from the green with an easy pitch and don't make it. Those are the holes that cost me more than 18."

Japan's Ryo Ishikawa has the lowest round on a major tour, shooting a 12-under 58 to win the 2010 Crowns on the Japan Tour. Tommy Gainey missed a putt for a 59 at the McGladrey Classic and finished with a 60 in the last round to win the title last weekend, when Van Pelt was in Australia where he won the ISPS Handa Perth International on the European Tour.

Woods knows he's going to need a score like that to have any chance of winning the $6.1 million title at the Mines Resort, where he won the individual and team World Cup titles in 1999 on his last visit to Malaysia.

Thousands of people followed Woods and 2010 champion Ben Crane around the course, with the whir of camera shutters forcing Woods to stop his backswing on the fourth hole and the crowd causing him to pause at other times.

He'd promised to be aggressive and attack the course on the weekend, and he started with a birdie at the par-4 first hole. He got down to 14 under with four more birdies on the front nine to turn in 30, but then had a bogey at the 12th, a double bogey at the 14th where he had to drop a shot after hitting his tee shot in a water hazard beside the green, and another bogey at 17 after missing a birdie putt. He got progressively more frustrated on the back nine and clearly unimpressed with his round in brief interviews.

"I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, something similar to what Bo did today," he said. "The problem with being this far back is I'm going to need help. A great round tomorrow might not win it, that's the only problem, but I'm going to put up a great round anyways."

Woods said he just made too many mistakes on Saturday.

"I was right there. I had plenty of easy holes to go, but I didn't capitalize on that at all," he said. "I made a couple of bad decisions, bad swings on top of that.

"On a golf course that's playing this benign, you just can't afford to do that. It can be had out there -- I had it after eight holes, just didn't keep it going."

Jason Dufner got back into contention with an ace at the par-3 seventh hole -- his first in a competitive round. He had six birdies and a bogey in a 64 that moved him into a share of 19th at 9 under. Johnson Wagner started well and surged up the leaderboard as he went out in 29. He had seven birdies in the first 11 holes but then had bogeys at the 12th, 16th and 18th holes to finish with a 67.