37-year-old shoots a 67 to take first-round lead
After shooting the best round of the day to open the AT&T National, Bo Van Pelt said the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club felt like a major championship test.
"I said it last year, they needed one more year," Van Pelt said. "You could have a U.S. Open here this week."
The timing may be bad for Congressional, but not for Van Pelt, a 37-year-old veteran with one PGA Tour victory and $16.2 million in career earnings. At firm and fast Congressional, Van Pelt shot a 4-under-par 67 to take the lead by one shot over Vijay Singh, Brendon de Jonge and Jimmy Walker, and two over Jason Day, Billy Hurley III and Pat Perez. Play continues through Sunday in Bethesda.
After shooting a lackluster 72, Tiger Woods said he was surprised to see anyone at 4 under. Conditions were nothing like last year when Rory McIlroy lit up Congressional with a U.S. Open record score of 16 under.
"This is certainly a little retribution for what happened last year," Woods said. "But don't be mad at me. I didn't play."
Woods, the champion here in 2009, had two birdies and three bogeys, never getting below par in his round. Other notables who had more trouble were Lucas Glover (80), K.J. Choi (79), Adam Scott (75) and Jim Furyk (73).
"It's a great test," Woods said. "A couple shots today, the ball is bouncing as high as it flies. It's an adjustment we have to make."
No adjustment was necessary for Van Pelt, the only player in the field who didn't make a bogey. Van Pelt eagled the par-4 first hole, his 10th hole of the day, with a 93-yard wedge shot from the fairway. Then he made another 2 at No. 2, a 233-yard par 3.
Van Pelt played well at Congressional last year. After an opening-round 76, he rallied to tie for 14th. He has finished in the top 15 in the AT&T National three of the last four years. According to Van Pelt, however, the course has never played tougher, especially into the greens.
"The ball is bouncing and skipping," he said. "I had 125-yard shot on the last hole, and I was planning only on trying to land it 115 yards -- from the middle of the fairway with really no wind. If that kind of shot is moving that much when it gets on the green, imagine what a 6-iron or 5-iron is doing coming into some of those long par 4s."
With temperatures predicted to approach 100 degrees each of the next three days, players are anxious to see if the course will play even firmer, or if concerns over heat stress will force officials to soften the greens.
"I think it's going to be interesting as the week goes on, as it gets hotter," Woods said. "It's going to get baked out, and I don't think we're going to be able to put water on it while we are playing. It'll be interesting to see how the afternoon guys do over the next three days."
AT&T National Leaderboard
AT&T National (Jun 28 - Jul 1)
- Course: Congressional CC - Blue Course
- Par: 71
- Yardage: 7,569
|1||Bo Van Pelt||67||7:00 am||-||-||-4||F||-4||67|
|T2||Vijay Singh||68||1:15 pm||-||-||-3||F||-3||68|
|T2||Brendon de Jonge||68||7:25 am||-||-||-3||F||-3||68|
|T2||Jimmy Walker||68||7:37 am||-||-||-3||F||-3||68|
|T5||Billy Hurley III||69||1:52 pm||-||-||-2||F||-2||69|
|T5||Pat Perez||69||7:00 am||-||-||-2||F||-2||69|
|T5||Jason Day||69||8:02 am||-||-||-2||F||-2||69|
|T8||Daniel Summerhays||70||12:00 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Brandt Jobe70||12:12 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Greg Owen||70||12:25 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Dustin Johnson||70||12:50 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Davis Love III||70||12:50 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Hunter Mahan||70||12:50 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Marc Leishman||70||1:02 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Stewart Cink||70||1:15 pm||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||James Driscoll||70||7:12 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||John Mallinger||70||7:12 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Seung-yul Noh||70||7:12 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Charlie Wi||70||7:25 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Charles Howell III||70||7:50 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Nick Watney||70||7:50 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|
|T8||Robert Garrigus||70||8:02 am||-||-||-1||F||-1||70|