Every time you think you might just have the PGA Tour figured out, something new pops up and gets you. For example, the Travelers last week. I was fairly confident backing Keegan but was a bit worried about Bubba returning to from. What didn’t I see? A 44 year old youngster by the name of Ken Duke. What a win and who said golf was a young man’s game?
This week the tour rolls into Congressional Country Club’s Blue Course for the AT&T National. Congressional was founded in 1924 and has been the venue for some incredible golf over the years. There have been six editions of the Kemper Open held here, the PGA Championship in 1976 and three US Opens including Venturi’s remarkable victory against doctors orders in 1964. Since 2008 Congressional has been the host of the AT&T National. Tiger and Justin are out this week so this tournament could be up in the air.
Two players hold the 72 hole record of 267 at the AT&T National in Tiger Woods (2009) and Nick Watney (2011). Watney did it at Aronimink GC. The 18 hole record of 62 belongs to three players in the form of Anthony Kim (2009), Hunter Mahan (2009) and Nick Watney (2011 at Aronimink GC). Do you remember any of the great moments at the AT&T National? Here is a memory bump for you.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
Congressional will play all of 7,569 yards at a par of 71. Just think about that for one minute. An almost 7,600 yard par 71. Suffice it to say there will not be a ton of wedges into par 4’s this week. But which holes might swing the tournament in any players favor? Let’s look at four that could decide this event.
The 233 yard second hole can set the tone for a players round. Not only does this par 3 force players to play long irons to hybrids but this green is surrounded by six bunkers in the front, right and left. There is a ridge that will wreak havoc with tee shots all week. Par or birdie here to start your round can determine the next 16 holes.
Assuming players can navigate the test of the front nine successfully they run into a challenge at the par 4 489 yard 11th hole. Players will unload from an elevated tee to a challenging left-to-right landing area. If players manipulate the tee shot and avoid the bunkers on the right side they are forced into a pinpoint shot avoiding connecting water hazards near right side of the green and bunkers protecting its left side.
The 490 par 4 15th hole is another long hole at Congressional. this time there are four bunkers that surround the landing area just awaiting an errant tee shot. A poor drive into these bunkers brings double-bogey into play. An uphill second shot into a flat out mean green awaits players with its back to front slope and ridge dividing the putting surface. Factor in the deep bunkers protecting the green and par here is always a solid score.
The signature 523 yard par 4 18th sets up for incredible finishes and is justifiably the finishing hole at Congressional. A bombing right-to-left tee shot is the ball of choice but players must be careful of the trees on the right side. There are very few shots on tour that require more focus and execution than the approach to 18 at Congressional. Imagine standing in the fairway with the tournament on the line and facing a mid to long iron approach into a green with bunkers to the right and the other three sides surrounded by water. Now that is built in drama and great TV.
While the breakdown is great we all want to know who has a shot to take down the title this week. Will it be another first timer that takes a title? Who is the most logical? Let’s take a minute and break down a few of the contenders.
Up Next: The Contenders