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Tiger Woods hopes to keep tourney at Congressional

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Sports,Golf,Kevin Dunleavy

Woods wants to keep tourney in Bethesda

Promoting the upcoming AT&T National Monday at Congressional, Tiger Woods saved the best for last.

Concerning his recent tiff with Sergio Garcia in the Players Championship, Woods was asked if he would attempt to contact Garcia at some point as a goodwill gesture. The AT&T National defending champion had a one-word answer that spoke volumes.

"No," he said with a smile before he exited stage right to a chorus of laughter.

Woods was more expansive when fielding the first question he was posed, regarding the murky future of the AT&T National. Woods reiterated his preference to remain at Congressional. The Bethesda course is committed to hosting through 2014. On December 31 of this year, its 1,100 members will vote on whether to extend for another three years.

"I think it's just a wonderful showcase to have a golf course that has hosted five major championships, and as difficult as it is, we would like to stay here, there's no doubt," Woods said. "It's an ongoing conversation, and we'll figure it out."

The success of the tournament in Philadelphia in 2010 and 2011, when Aronimink Country Club hosted, provides the AT&T National with an inviting alternative. In addition, Aronimink was much more welcoming of the tournament when it polled its members on whether to host. In 2008, when Congressional voted on whether to extend, it was approved by only 51 percent of its membership.

"There's certainly options out there, whether it's in Philly, or it's in the D.C./Baltimore area," Woods said. "That's something that we're going to have to work through."

Many Congressional members are less than enthusiastic about giving up the course during the tournament and in the run-up. In addition, according to club president Greg Lamb, holding the event in the summer (June 27-30 this year) stresses the course to its limit. The optimal date, he said, would be in May, which is when Washington's previous PGA Tour stop - hosted by Congressional and nearby TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm - was held from 1980-2006.

After hosting the 2011 U.S. Open, the 12th and 13th greens were ruined, Lamb said. A change in Congressional policy to maintain the course throughout the year, keeping conditions firm and fast, however has somewhat mitigated the problems associated with hosting a tournament, Lamb explained.

"It's a different culture and philosophy of how to maintain the golf course that won't allow us to go back to a soft golf course," Lamb said. "Membership has embraced that conditioning."

Another option for the AT&T National is to move the tournament to Avenel, a move that Woods has never publicly embraced. When Avenel hosted a PGA Tour stop, Woods never elected to play here. The course, owned by the PGA Tour, underwent a lavish renovation and has been met with rave reviews.

After winning the 2009 AT&T National, Woods was asked if he had visited Avenel. His answer was the same as the one regarding Garcia on Monday.

"No," Woods said, with no need for further explanation.

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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