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Van Pelt can build on his knowledge of National

Monday, April 11, 2011


Charl Schwartzel wasn't the only golfer to excel in his second Masters Tournament appearance.

Bo Van Pelt eagled both par-5s on the back nine to post a 70. (Corey Perrine/Staff)

Bo Van Pelt, on the strength of eagles on the two back-nine par-5s at Augusta National Golf Club, tied for eighth place to finish among the top 16 and earn an automatic invitation back for the 2012 Masters.

"This is a place you want to be every April," he said.

The former Oklahoma State star closed with 2-under-par 70 Sunday to finish the tournament at 8-under 280, six shots behind Schwartzel.

"I love this golf course, and I love this tournament. To know already I'm going to come back is great," said Van Pelt, who tied with five other players with two eagles during the week. "Every year you're going to build knowledge, and maybe not make the same mistakes like I did a couple of times this year."

The Masters brought out the best in Van Pelt, who missed four of five cuts to start the season and was 86th on the money list coming into Augusta.

His best finish before Sunday this season was a tie for 18th in Phoenix.

He shot 73-69-68-70, a marked improvement on his previous appearance at the Masters, when he missed the cut in 2005 with rounds of 76-75.

"I felt like my long game had been coming around and my putting stroke had gotten a little bit better," Van Pelt said. "I was pretty confident at the beginning of the week that I would play well. I didn't know how well.

"But I felt my game was in good enough shape that I could do something if I just stuck to my game plan, which I did."

After his eagle on the 15th, Van Pelt had pulled to within a shot of the lead. He bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17, however, and parred No. 18 coming in.

"I knew I was pretty close," Van Pelt said. "I kind of had a feeling. I didn't know for sure, but I was just trying to still make birdie, seeing how I figured 16 with that pin is a birdie opportunity, and I felt like you're going to have short irons into 17 and 18. I felt like you needed to make at least one more coming in."

Texan Ryan Palmer also closed with 70 to finish 10th at 282 and earn an invitation for 2012. He battled back from a terrible start (double bogey on No. 1 and a bogey on No. 3) to play his final 15 holes in 5-under par.

"I know I didn't win the tournament," Palmer said, "but it feels like I did something unbelievable after the start I got off to today.

"I'm almost speechless."

With near-ideal scoring conditions all week, it took 4-under-par 284 to gain entry into the "top 16 club" this year. Last year, golfers at 286 and below made it.

Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

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