Host Tiger favourite at AT&T
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 AT&T National | Preview | 01 Jul 2009
The PGA Tour moves south to the nation’s capital for the AT&T National where most interest will be on the state of Tiger Woods’ game just two weeks out from the British Open. The tournament is to be played at the outstanding Congressional Country Club in Bethesda just to the north east of Washington DC and as such is the home club for many of the USA’s leading politicians and business heavyweights.
This particular tournament was first played here in 2007 although Congressional Country Club has played host to two US Opens and was the venue for the Kemper Open/Booz Allen Classic on several occasions. The Blue Course at the Congressional Country Club was designed in 1957 by Robert Trent Jones Snr and redesigned by his son Rees Jones in 1989.
The tournament host Tiger Woods has played only the once in this event finishing 6th although he did finish 19th at Congressional in the 1997 US Open. He missed the chance to play the tournament last year because of his injury. Woods finished the best of those who copped the worst of the draw at Bethpage. This is a quality golf course and clearly Woods is the best there is, making for a formidable but not necessarily unbeatable combination.
Jim Furyk has been twice third in his two starts in this event and his form of late suggests a continuation of that record.
Anthony Kim is the defending champion and after a run of poor form in recent months there have been signs in his last two starts that a successful defence is not out of the question. He played well at the US Open and then backed that up with another solid week in Hartford.
Hunter Mahan has been in fine form over the past few weeks, a near miss at the US Open followed up by a very good week at the Travelers Championship last week. Mahan has performed well on this golf course in each of the last two years and it will be a surprise if he is not contending late in the tournament.
I thought Lucas Glover was very impressive last week at the Travelers, especially given that it came so soon after his life changing win at Bethpage. He has made the cut on both occasions in this event and did have one round of 66 when 12th in 2007.
Steve Marino led after an opening round of 65 in 2008 before finishing 24th. He is a much better player now and while he is yet to win his first PGA Tour event, he has gone close on several occasions this year. It might be a bit much to expect him to beat this field but he is a chance at longer odds.
Of the Australasians Robert Allenby has the best record in the event having finished 6th and 3rd in his two starts. He surprisingly missed the cut at the US Open but was another to be caught on the wrong side of the draw and as such could be forgiven.
Peter Lonard holds the course record at Congressional Country Club along with Tom Pernice Jr after the Sydneysider’s final round of 63 to finish 12th last year. He has shown signs in his past few weeks that things are getting better including a very good ball striking display last week.
Nick O’Hern finished 3rd in the event last year and has played well enough on some good courses of late to be around on Sunday. He is the grinding, no frills sort of player who could do well on this golf course.
John Senden, Rod Pampling, Mathew Goggin, Aaron Baddeley, Jason Day, Stuart Appleby, Stuart Appleby, James Nitties, Danny Lee, Nathan Green, Marc Leishman, Aron Price and Steve Elkington make up the balance of the Australasians in the field.