Congressional Country Club
Yards: 7,569 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (36-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 5,600 square feet on average
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass at 4”
Water Hazards: 5
Course Architects: Devereaux Emmett (1924); Robert Trent Jones (1957), Rees Jones (1989); McDonald and Sons (2009).
Winner’s Share: $1,170,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods defeated Bo Van Pelt by two shots to claim his second AT&T National championship. Woods is injured and is not in the field this year.
Dates: June 27-30
Notes: Course history buffs should remember that the 2010 and 2011 editions of this tournament took place at Aronomink Golf Club outside of Philadelphia as CCC was preparing for and hosting the U.S. Open.
There have been 26 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 21 of them but Australian Adam Scott and Englishman Justin Rose have the two biggest trophies, the Masters and U.S. Open, respectively. Both players are Scott is in the field this week.
Past champions in the field include:
2007 K.J. Choi
2010 Justin Rose (Aronomink)
2011 Nick Watney (Aronomink)
There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial).
There have also been 10 first-time winners this season. There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial). There were only nine first-time winners in 2012.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32) and now Duke (44). The young folks (30 and younger) now have 10 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up a a baker’s dozen, 13 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) now have three wins on the year as Duke answered the bell last week.
AT&T National replaced The International on the PGA TOUR calendar in the summer of 2007.
Rank and File
There are 12 11 of the OWGR top 50 in the field this week as of Monday lunch. Justin Rose WD Monday afternoon.
Congressional Country Club has been the host of three U.S. Opens, a PGA Championship and a U.S. Senior Open since its opening in 1924. The first president of the club was sitting President Herbert Hoover so there’s plenty of history around these hallowed grounds. The AT&T National made its debut here in 2007 but it was forced to relocate in 2010 and 2011 as CCC tore out all of the Poa annua greens and replaced them with Bentgrass greens for the 2011 U.S. Open.
The AT&T National returned “home” in 2012 and was vanquished by awful weather Friday evening which caused the course to be closed to spectators on Saturday because of extensive damage on and around the course. Tiger Woods held off Bo Van Pelt for his second victory at this event.
The Blue Course plays a large 7,569 yards to par 71 so we’ll need to find some guys who can get it down the fairway. With the rough playing up to four inches off the fairway and around the greens, I believe that ball-strikers could have the advantage this week. The premium putters will also have their say if they keep these greens at 14 or better on the Stimpmeter. Last year, the leaderboard was balanced with both sets and the top two guys were pretty good in the all-around. CCC was the third-most difficult course on TOUR in 2012.
The tough angle for gamers this week is how to evaluate play at this tournament and on this course. I believe you can throw out the results from 2007-2009 because putting on Poa annua greens is the EXACT OPPOSITE of putting on Bentgrass that is running 14.5’ on the Stimpmeter. If you are going to use the U.S. Open as a reference point, please remember they set up Congressional after taking on torrential rains. Here’s my advice: Find players who are in form and play difficult courses well.
Best 10, Plus One
Adam Scott: It seems like he only signs up to play on the toughest tracks and this week won’t be any different as the Masters champion tries to improve on his solo third here last year. He’s a beast when it comes to ball-striking and he also resides in the top 50 in strokes gained-putting. If he’s in the field, he’s on this list.
Jason Day: After finishing third at Augusta and T2 two week ago at Merion, it’s hardly a surprise why Day is rated so highly this week. He hits it a mile and is 32nd in scrambling and 32 in total putting, two very useful stats this week. He was second to McIlroy here in the U.S. Open and was T8 last year.
Brandt Snedeker: His June started off MC, MC but his weekend 70-72 at Merion should reignite his 2013. He’ll be one of the few guys who will be drooling at the fact that the greens this week will be running +14 on the Stimpmeter as that plays into his advantage. He’s 16th in driving accuracy, 17th in GIR and 22nd in strokes gained-putting. Oh, and he’s 27th in scrambling.
Billy Horschel: The sky is the absolute limit for this young man. He’s fearless, cocksure and has the game to back most of it up. Anybody who wears squid trousers on the final day of his national championship must have some large balls in his golf bag. Sure, this is a course where veteran, big-name players have won but you write Horschel off at your own peril. He’s made 15 weekends and seven of those have resulted in top 10s including T4 at Merion and T10 at FESJC in his last two.
Graham DeLaet: On a course where ball-striking is essentially in the No. 1 requirement, it would be quite daft of me not to have on the No. 1 ball-striker on TOUR on my list again this week. After a very solid performance last week, course history goes out the window this week as DeLaet is playing very well. He’s seen six consecutive weekends and the last five have been T26 or better and that includes two top 10s. #hotpotato
Hunter Mahan: Stop me if you’ve read this before. Mahan has seen six consecutive weeks and the last five have been T26 or better and that includes a top 10 at the U.S. Open. Mahan finished T8 here in 2007, T12 in 2008 and T8 here last year. His ball-striking, scrambling and putting has been a pretty good fit at Congressional. After a serious lull in late March/early April, Mahan looks to be heading in the right direction.
Charley Hoffman: Another player whose recent form has been eye-catching, Hoffman was the 54-hole leader at RBC Heritage and TPC River Highlands this year before his final round slowed him down. He finished T6 after 77 at Harbour Towne and was T7 last week in Connecticut. He sits sixth in the all-around ranking and is brimming with confidence.
Bill Haas: Even though he’s missed three of the last four weekends that he’s entered, Haas has still racked up six top 10s and nine top 25s in 11 starts this year. His MCs were Quail Hollow, THE PLAYERS and the U.S. Open but he sandwiched a T4 at the Memorial in that run. He’s 34th in ball-striking, 23rd in scrambling and third in par-four performance.
Scott Stallings: After missing four consecutive weekends, Stallings hit the turbo button at the end of May and rattled off finishes of T4, T4 and T2 before succumbing to Merion with T53. His total package on multiple styles of golf courses has impressed me and I think he’ll be right in the thick of things again this weekend based on that form.
Ryan Palmer: The Texan is another player who makes his living on Bentgrass greens and he should also be excited at the possibility of slick greens come the weekend. He’s plenty long off the tee and hits plenty of GIR to give him birdie chances. He’s 37th in ball-striking and 25th in total putting and he should be rested after missing the weekend at Merion his last time out.
Rickie Fowler: His game has sprung to life in the past two weekends as he fired the low round of Saturday at the U.S. Open (67) and the second-lowest round last Sunday (64) at TPC River Highlands. He’ll enjoy the tight driving conditions and if his iron play is average, his above-average short game and putting will come in handy. He won’t have to worry about playing the final round with Tiger Woods either so he has that going for him, which is nice.