Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., hosts the AT&T National for the fifth time in its seven-year history. It was benched in 2010 and 2011 (in favor of Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia) when the USGA took over for the 2011 U.S. Open. When it returned last year, Congressional wasn't the kinder, gentler version that greeted the invitees the first three times around.
The Devereaux Emmett creation has proven as one of the most useful and versatile tracks along the Eastern Seaboard. Nipped and tucked over the years by a cavalcade of renown designers and architects, it played in 2012 like the USGA may have wanted it to for the season's second major the year prior.
Congressional averaged 73.046 for last year's field, or +2.046 strokes to par. That was the highest in relation to par of any non-major in 2012. The sixth hole played as a par 5 for the first time, so the course lists as a par 36-35=71 on the scorecard. At 7,569 yards, it's the second-longest host on the schedule (Torrey Pines South; 7,698 yards).
From tee to green, Congressional played its hardest in 2012, even when you compare it against the U.S. Open. Its fairways-hit percentage was 56.94, 14th-lowest on the PGA TOUR. It registered a clip of 58.90 percent in greens in regulation, good for ninth-lowest.
As if those numbers don't underscore the premium on ball-striking, consider that it ranked third-lowest in scrambling at 48.98 percent. Congressional also checked in at fourth-most difficult in putting inside 10 feet at 85.35 percent. Par-3 scoring tied for seventh-highest at 3.14. Both par-4 and par-5 scoring ranked fifth at 4.17 and 4.87, respectively.
Tiger Woods isn't able to defend his title this week due to a strained left elbow. That opened an unexpected spot in the field for which tournament organizers had already created 12 additional spots to reach 132. This tournament is the last of seven that expanded due to the compressed schedule this season.
Spectators were prohibited from attending last year's third round due to damage caused by overnight storms. Unfortunately, the threat of severe weather cannot be ruled out during any round this week. Expect winds to fluctuate at time as the sky churns. Temperatures will rise into the mid-80s, thus helping fuel the atmosphere.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among recent winners, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The Stats Report on Wednesday.
|Power Rankings: AT&T National|