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Van Pelt shining in Tiger-less spotlight

By LARRY LAGE
Associated Press

GRAND BLANC, Mich. — The PGA Tour’s optimistic view of life without Tiger Woods is that it gives unheralded players a chance in the spotlight.

Bo Van Pelt is trying to take advantage.

Van Pelt shot a 6-under 66 Friday at the Buick Open, making him a career-best 14-under 130 through 36 holes and the second-round leader by two shots.

He missed out on his best chance to win for the first time in seven PGA Tour seasons at the Puerto Rico Open, where he led for three-plus rounds before losing by a stroke to first-time winner Greg Kraft.

“The more I put myself in that position, one of these Sundays is going to be my day,” he said.

Daniel Chopra (67) and Dudley Hart (68) head into the weekend at 12 under, two shots behind Van Pelt.

Woody Austin (67) was another stroke back along with Matt Jones (63).

While some relative unknowns fill the leaderboard at a tournament expecting to feature Woods before he had season-ending knee surgery, the top players in a lackluster field are failing to dominate.

Jim Furyk (No. 12), Justin Leonard (No. 23) and Kenny Perry (No. 27) are the only players among the top 30 in the world at Warwick Hills, where just nine of the top 50 players in the world ranking are competing.

Perry (67) fared the best of the trio of standouts, trailing Van Pelt by six shots. Leonard (68) was nine strokes back, and Furyk was another shot behind after following up a solid first round with an even-par 72.

Rocco Mediate (69) made the cut at 4 under in his first tournament since pushing Woods for five-plus rounds in the U.S. Open before coming up just short in a dramatic matchup watched by millions.

“I got some sleep and I played a little bit better,” Mediate said.

The Buick Open isn’t generating a ton of interest without Woods at Warwick Hills or elsewhere, but Van Pelt is doing his best to make a name for himself with a bogey-free 36 holes after starting the week 108th on the money list.

Van Pelt and wife Carrie sell nutritional products and his father is a former NFL player.

No, not five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brad Van Pelt.

It’s Bob Van Pelt, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1967.

“My dad’s line is that Brad Van Pelt played about 15 years in the league and he played 15 minutes,” he cracked.

Chopra, who ended the first round only a stroke behind the leaders, stayed in contention with another strong round thanks in part to a crafty shot at the par-3 eighth. With his ball on the lip of a greenside bunker, Chopra hit his second shot from both knees outside the sand to set up a gimme for par.

“It’s a shot I used to play and practice as a kid,” Chopra said. “We used to have little chipping games around the greens and used to find the most difficult spots.

“I nearly holed it, so it worked out just perfect.”

A morning tee time also helped Chopra because it gave him an opportunity to drive about an hour away to check out the TPC Michigan, where he hopes to qualify for the British Open on Monday.

Chopra won the PGA Tour’s season-opening event at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, but has failed to crack the top 30 in any tournament since.

Hart has won twice on the PGA Tour, with the last victory coming in 2000 at the Honda Classic. His highlight this year was a third-place finish at Pebble Beach.

Austin was making a run at Van Pelt early in his round when he went 6 under over a five-hole stretch, but then he parred 10 consecutive holes and bogeyed his last one to fall to 11 under.

“I didn’t take full advantage of having it going,” Austin said.

Brian Bateman became the fourth Buick Open defending champion to miss the cut and the first in a decade. Now, a shoulder injury might put him on the shelf soon.

“I thought in the last few weeks that it was time just to have the surgery and then call it a year,” he said. “But I really wanted to play here and really wanted to try to defend.”

Jesper Parnevik withdrew from the tournament because of a wrist injury after shooting an opening-round 74.

With rain in the forecast, the groups will be threesomes instead of twosomes and will go off both tees in the hopes of completing the third round Saturday.

Scores with relation to par from the second round of the Buick Open,played June 27 at the par-72, 7,127-yard Warwick Hills Golf and CountryClub in Grand Blanc, Mich.:

1. Bo Van Pelt 64-66–130
-14 2. Daniel Chopra 65-67–132
-12 2. Dudley Hart 64-68–132
-12 4. Woody Austin 66-67–133
-11 4. Matt Jones 70-63–133
-11 6. Fredrik Jacobson 68-66–134
-10 6. Bubba Watson 67-67–134
-10 8. Ken Duke 69-66–135
-9 8. Jon Mills 66-69–135
-9 8. Todd Demsey 68-67–135
-9 8. Charles Warren 67-68–135
-9 8. Nick Watney 69-66–135
-9 13. Lucas Glover 70-66–136
-8 13. Ryan Palmer 70-66–136
-8 13. Todd Hamilton 70-66–136
-8 13. John Rollins 72-64–136
-8 13. Kenny Perry 69-67–136
-8 13. Michael Letzig 69-67–136
-8 13. Tom Byrum 67-69–136
-8 13. Briny Baird 65-71–136
-8 13. Jason Gore 68-68–136
-8 22. Stephen Leaney 67-70–137
-7 22. Charles Howell III 71-66–137
-7 22. Charlie Wi 72-65–137
-7 22. Tag Ridings 67-70–137
-7 22. Jimmy Walker 72-65–137
-7 22. Brian Gay 69-68–137
-7 22. Harrison Frazar 68-69–137
-7 29. Chris DiMarco 70-68–138
-6 29. Peter Lonard 70-68–138
-6 29. Brad Elder 67-71–138
-6 29. Dustin Johnson 68-70–138
-6 29. Tom Lehman 71-67–138
-6 29. Corey Pavin 64-74–138
-6 29. Alex Cejka 70-68–138
-6 29. Robert Garrigus 69-69–138
-6 29. Kevin Streelman 70-68–138
-6 38. Billy Mayfair 69-70–139
-5 38. J.P. Hayes 71-68–139
-5 38. Craig Barlow 70-69–139
-5 38. Justin Leonard 71-68–139
-5 38. Bob Tway 68-71–139
-5 38. Brenden Pappas 70-69–139
-5 38. Mark Hensby 71-68–139
-5 38. Kenneth Ferrie 66-73–139
-5 38. Brett Rumford 70-69–139
-5 38. Paul Claxton 69-70–139
-5 48. Shane Bertsch 71-69–140
-4 48. Kevin Stadler 70-70–140
-4 48. James Driscoll 72-68–140
-4 48. Charley Hoffman 70-70–140
-4 48. Chris Riley 71-69–140
-4 48. Marc Turnesa 71-69–140
-4 48. Dicky Pride 69-71–140
-4 48. Steve Allan 69-71–140
-4 48. Mathew Goggin 68-72–140
-4 48. Lee Janzen 67-73–140
-4 48. Kevin Na 67-73–140
-4 48. Jim Furyk 68-72–140
-4 48. Steve Lowery 69-71–140
-4 48. Scott Verplank 68-72–140
-4 48. Rod Pampling 71-69–140
-4 48. Rocco Mediate 71-69–140
-4 48. Nick O'Hern 68-72–140
-4 48. Justin Bolli 70-70–140
-4 48. Gavin Coles 71-69–140
-4 67. Cameron Beckman 74-67–141
-3 67. Tim Wilkinson 71-70–141
-3 67. Brent Geiberger 71-70–141
-3 67. Paul Goydos 71-70–141
-3 67. Dan Forsman 71-70–141
-3 67. John Huston 71-70–141
-3 67. Jin Park 71-70–141
-3 67. Kyle Thompson 71-70–141
-3 67. Jason Day 73-68–141
-3 67. Billy Andrade 71-70–141
-3 67. Ben Crane 68-73–141
-3 67. Glen Day 72-69–141
-3 67. Bob Estes 70-71–141
-3 67. Shigeki Maruyama 66-75–141
-3 67. Michael Bradley 73-68–141
-3 67. Mark Brooks 70-71–141
-3 67. Jay Williamson 68-73–141
-3 67. Heath Slocum 72-69–141
-3 67. Chez Reavie 72-69–141
-3 • • •

Missed the cut

86. Eric Axley 71-71–142
-2 86. Arron Oberholser 71-71–142
-2 86. Brandt Snedeker 70-72–142
-2 86. Olin Browne 69-73–142
-2 86. Brandt Jobe 74-68–142
-2 86. Marco Dawson 72-70–142
-2 86. Carlos Franco 71-71–142
-2 86. Matt Harmon 73-69–142
-2 86. Johnson Wagner 67-75–142
-2 86. Tom Pernice, Jr. 74-68–142
-2 86. Nick Flanagan 72-70–142
-2 97. Mathias Gronberg 73-70–143
-1 97. Jeff Quinney 73-70–143
-1 97. John Riegger 71-72–143
-1 97. John Senden 72-71–143
-1 97. Nathan Green 73-70–143
-1 97. Frank Lickliter II 73-70–143
-1 97. Vaughn Taylor 72-71–143
-1 97. David Lutterus 73-70–143
-1 97. Larry Mize 72-71–143
-1 97. Jason Dufner 74-69–143
-1 97. Craig Kanada 70-73–143
-1 97. Cody Freeman 72-71–143
-1 97. Jason Allred 70-73–143
-1 97. Dean Wilson 69-74–143
-1 97. Fred Funk 68-75–143
-1 97. Patrick Sheehan 68-75–143
-1 97. Ryan Armour 72-71–143
-1 97. Paul Stankowski 73-70–143
-1 97. Chad Collins 69-74–143
-1 116. Robert Gamez 74-70–144
E 116. Jose Coceres 70-74–144
E 116. Greg Kraft 73-71–144
E 116. Will MacKenzie 73-71–144
E 116. Brad Adamonis 75-69–144
E 121. Kent Jones 72-73–145 + 1 121. Jeff Maggert 73-72–145 + 1 121. J.J. Henry 73-72–145 + 1 121. Webb Simpson 75-70–145 + 1 121. Travis Perkins 72-73–145 + 1 121. Jeff Gove 71-74–145 + 1 121. Parker McLachlin 70-75–145 + 1 121. Neal Lancaster 70-75–145 + 1 121. Jim McGovern 72-73–145 + 1 121. Ron Whittaker 73-72–145 + 1 121. Tom Gillis 69-76–145 + 1 121. Jake Roos 77-68–145 + 1 121. Chris Stroud 75-70–145 + 1 134. John Daly 72-74–146 + 2 134. Scott Sterling 73-73–146 + 2 134. Martin Laird 75-71–146 + 2 134. Omar Uresti 71-75–146 + 2 134. Ted Purdy 74-72–146 + 2 134. Bob Sowards 71-75–146 + 2 140. Joe Durant 72-75–147 + 3 140. Richard S. Johnson 73-74–147 + 3 140. Mark Wilson 73-74–147 + 3 140. Jeff Overton 73-74–147 + 3 140. Doug LaBelle II 75-72–147 + 3 145. Steve Flesch 73-75–148 + 4 145. Andrew Buckle 70-78–148 + 4 147. Jeff Cuzzort 75-74–149 + 5 148. Brian Bateman 76-74–150 + 6 148. Cliff Kresge 73-77–150 + 6 150. Bob Heintz 77-74–151 + 7 150. Troy Matteson 75-76–151 + 7 152. Scott Hebert 76-76–152 + 8 WD. Jesper Parnevik 74-WD

WD. Tom Scherrer 77-WD

WD. Tommy Gainey 82-WD

DQ. Robert Damron 77-DQ

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