CARMEL, Ind. — Bo Van Pelt should feel right at home this weekend.
He expects a large contingent of family and friends to follow him around Crooked Stick Golf Club in the BMW Championship. His nephew is a caddie at the course, and his mother lives about 15 minutes away from the course.
So when Van Pelt saw Crooked Stick, appear on the PGA Tour schedule, he circled the date and made sure he qualified for the tournament — perhaps the only one he’ll play in his home state.
“I’m obviously very excited. All my family still lives there,” Van Pelt said. “It’s where I started to play, where I fell in love with the game of golf and it’s the first time I’ve been able to play a pro tournament there.”
Golf has been good to Van Pelt, taking him across America and around the globe — everywhere it seems except Indiana.
The tour hasn’t been back to Crooked Stick since John Daly shredded the course with the grip it-and-rip it philosophy that sent him from unknown alternate to PGA Championship winner in 1991. Van Pelt was there to see part of it.
The then-16-year-old made the 85-mile trek from his hometown, Richmond, to Carmel to watch the practice rounds.
He has been back a few times since, just not to compete in any official tournaments, and now the 37-year-old, 15-year tour veteran has the chance of a lifetime.
He’s 20th in the FedEx Cup standings with a 275-point lead over 30th-place Kyle Stanley. The top 30 qualify for next weekend’s playoff finale in Atlanta, and a good showing for Van Pelt would set him up to play for the $10 million bonus and give him an exemption for the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, with all those fans cheering for him.
“Making the tour championship is everybody’s goal. It’s something I want to do this year as well,” Van Pelt said. “It’s going to be a fun week to play in Indiana with friends and family, and I seem to play better when they’re around.”
The closest he can remember being to Indy as a pro is the Memorial, a tournament held each spring in Dublin, Ohio, in the run up to the U.S. Open. That’s about a 3-hour drive from Indy.
Van Pelt isn’t the only native Hoosier coming home.
Former Indiana star Jeff Overton, who grew up in Evansville, made the cut after finishing in a tie for seventh at The Deutsche Bank Championship. Heading into last weekend, the 29-year-old who turned pro in 2005 appeared to be in danger of missing out on this weekend’s tourney.
But Overton shot 68 in the final round, produced his best finish since April and jumped to 40th in the points just in time to earn a trip back to a course that he played in college.
“This summer, I’ve been up there horsing around, checking the place out to see what it was going to be like for the tournament,” Overton said. “I’ve been there quite few a times.”
Both got another look at the course that has hosted the Solheim Cup and U.S. Senior Open during Tuesday’s practice rounds and Wednesday’s Pro-Am.
Van Pelt is paired with Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson on Thursday and Friday.
Overton is playing with Graeme McDowell and Tom Gillis.
And both Indiana players insist they’ll be rested, ready and relaxed when they tee off.
“I think there will be a little extra motivation to make some birdies and hear the roars because you’d have a lot of people following you,” Overton said.
But instead of feeling additional pressure, both say the extra people will help them almost as much as a little home cooking.
“We have so much down time, for me it helps fill all the down time,” Van Pelt said. “My kids come out and my wife. When the golf’s over, you can kind of get away from the golf and not think about it.”