PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Golfers can't help but experiment with equipment. Sometimes it works out. Often times they find themselves going backwards before returning to old faithfuls.
Bo Van Pelt, who shot an opening 4-under-par 68 Thursday at the Players Championship, had his TP Mills custom-made putter refurbished and put it back in his bag at the Verizon Heritage after a horrendous putting exhibition at the Shell Houston Open. The result has been consecutive top-5 finishes at the Verizon and the Quail Hollow Championship. His efforts at TPC Sawgrass were just more of the same for a player on a roll -- and rolling it better.
"I've made the majority of the money I've made with that putter," said Van Pelt, 34, who used a belly putter for the first half of 2009 and then switched back to his TP Mills model and won the very next week at the U.S. Bank Championship at Milwaukee. "I putted great at Milwaukee and the rest of the year."
So why did he switch? "I think we get too much time on our hands and the grass starts to look greener on the other side of the fence," he said. "I changed thinking it's an improvement, but it wasn't."
Van Pelt said the TP Mills model had gotten beaten up, so he had it refurbished. He also decided to take an inch off the shaft, shortening it to 35 inches and allowing his arms to hang more naturally.
The results speak for themselves, and Thursday at TPC Sawgrass, Van Pelt recorded his fifth score of 68 or better in his last nine rounds, and he is back in contention again. He needed just 26 putts.
"I'm definitely feeling more comfortable and just going out and playing," he said. "I'm not trying to press. I'm just relaxing and playing golf. I guess that's easy when the putter is working."