AT&T National first round
Hello everyone from the first round of the ATT National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. First things first: Tiger Woods doesn’t tee off till 12:50 p.m., so take your time getting out here.
Of the early-morning groups, the most interesting is likely Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson and Davis Love III. But there are some really good stories, if not stars, on the course right now.
Those of you who watched the U.S. Open surely are familiar with Beau Hossler, above, the 17-year-old who just finished his junior year of high school in Orange County, Calif. Two weeks ago at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Hossler actually led the U.S. Open in the middle of the second round. He ended up tied for 21st, but he made enough waves to earn an invitation here. And what did he do when he arrived? Birdied his first hole in his first PGA Tour event.
Erik Compton is another worthy story. Born with a heart condition, he had one heart transplant at age 12. Then that heart began to give out in his late 20s, so he had another one. Now, he’s a full-fledged member of the PGA Tour — and he, too, birdied his first hole of the ATT National.
Want one more early birdie from an interesting character? Billy Hurley III was born in Leesburg and when to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he played golf. But he had to do his five years of service after graduation. He did, traveling to the Persian Gulf, serving his country. Now, he’s on tour — and he birdied his first hole as well.
One thing to watch over the course of the morning: The scoring. So much was made of how the pros chewed up Congressional’s Blue Course at last year’s U.S. Open. But the course is noticeably firmer, and the rough is thicker — maybe not super high, but very dense and therefore penal. The players all believe the winning score this week won’t resemble Rory McIlroy’s 16-under 268 from a year ago. Try maybe in the 8-12 under range.
I’ll have a few updates over the next couple of hours. Television coverage on the Golf Channel begins at 3 p.m. — in time to watch Tiger finish his round.