|Defending Champion K.J. Choi Leads Dynamic Field in Nation's Capital for 2008 AT&T National|
BETHESDA, MD -- The 2008 AT&T National is making its highly anticipated return to the Nation's Capital this Fourth of July holiday weekend. The prestigious $6 million tournament will bring the fireworks along with a distinguished field of 120 of golf's finest players to Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.
Tackling the famous Blue Course will be top PGA TOUR players, led by defending champion K.J. Choi, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Trevor Immelman, Fred Couples, Anthony Kim, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Davis Love III, Rocco Mediate, Brandt Snedeker, Aaron Baddeley, J.B. Holmes, Mike Weir, Tim Clark, Camilo Villegas and Maryland native Fred Funk, among others.
Hosted by Tiger Woods and benefiting the Tiger Woods Foundation, competitors will take aim at a $6 million purse with the winner earning a $1.08 million check.
K.J. Choi returns to defend his AT&T National title after posting an impressive three-stroke victory last year. The win was part of a career year for the South Korean where he collected more than $4.5 million in earnings and finished fifth on the 2007 FedExCup points list, amassing seven top-10 finishes, including a victory at the Memorial Tournament. Choi has continued his hot streak in the new season with a victory at the 2008 Sony Open in Hawaii, giving him at least one PGA TOUR win in each of his past four seasons. He is currently ranked 11th in the Official World Golf Rankings and 16th on the PGA TOUR season money list with more than $1.8 million in earnings.
Four-time TOUR winner Steve Stricker, who finished second at the 2007 AT&T National, returns to Congressional as the world's 9th ranked player. He has four top-10 finishes in 2008, including runner-up at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.
One of the world's most consistent players, Jim Furyk was the only player in the field to finish in the top-10 at the 1997 U.S. Open (T5) and the inaugural AT&T National (T3), both held at Congressional. Currently ranked 12th in the world, Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, has four top-10 finishes in 2008.
Trevor Immelman's star has been rising ever since earning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 and was cemented in PGA history with his victory at this year's Masters Tournament. The 15th ranked South African just missed winning his third TOUR event earlier this month at the Stanford St. Jude Championship where he lost in a three-man playoff.
Two-time PGA TOUR Player of the Year Fred Couples has 15 wins on the PGA TOUR, including the 1992 Masters, and remains one of the sport's most popular players. Returning from a nagging back injury which kept him out for most of 2007, Couples, who earned his first TOUR win at Congressional with his 1983 Kemper Open win, has three top-10 finishes in 11 starts since his comeback began.
Twenty-three year-old Anthony Kim showed his prowess by dominating a star-studded field to earn his first TOUR win at last month's Wachovia Championship, setting a tournament scoring record at 16 under par. The highly-decorated former University of Oklahoma star, ranked 11th on the Money List and 19th in the world, is being touted as one of the TOUR's brightest young stars.
Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby lead an Aussie invasion of 13 countrymen descending upon Washington next week. Allenby has 15 international victories, four PGA TOUR wins and five top-10 finishes in 2008. Appleby has developed a strong D.C. area following ever since capturing the 1998 Kemper Open, one of his eight wins on the TOUR. He started red-hot this season, finishing among the top-ten in his first five starts.
Davis Love III is a winner of two THE PLAYERS championships and a PGA Championship and has two top-25 finishes this year. Love has notched 19 career TOUR wins and in 2006 was playing as well as he had at any time in his career. He finished the year 16th on the money list, the 15th time in his 21-year career he finished in the top-20. However, after several top-10 finishes in 2007, torn tendons in his ankle ended his season early. In 2008, the Charlotte, N.C.-native is back in shape and finished T24 at the Stanford St. Jude Championship.
Coming off a spectacular and memorable performance against the game's number one-ranked Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open Championship, Rocco Mediate is sure to draw a strong gallery. The 23-year TOUR veteran performed well last year at Congressional, finishing T8 at the 2007 AT&T National.
Brandt Snedeker is another rising performer to keep an eye on and is one of a handful of TOUR players with top-10 finishes in the first two Major Championships of 2008. He finished T3 at the Masters and T9 at the U.S. Open. Snedeker earned a T8 finish at the 2007 AT&T National, en route to being named the 2007 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year.
Always a fan favorite, especially in his hometown, 51-year old Fred Funk, the former University of Maryland golf coach, played in his first career PGA TOUR event at Congressional in 1982. He finished T51 and earned $947.20. Twenty-six years later, Funk has played in a total of 587 PGA TOUR events (No. 588 is this week at the Buick Open) and has amassed $20,509,742, 12th all-time. Funk, a Takoma Park, Maryland-native, finished 62nd at last year's AT&T National, with his season highlight thus far being a win at the MasterCard Championship at Hualali on the Champions Tour.
Aaron Baddeley and Camilo Villegas are two more players to watch next week. Baddeley is another player in the AT&T National with Australian roots, though born in the United States he was raised down under.' The 21st ranked Aussie has six top-25 finishes this season, including a T2 at the Verizon Heritage. The always colorfully-attired Villegas has come close this season to securing his first TOUR win by posting three top-10 finishes this season, including a T9 at the U.S. Open.
Other top golfers committed to the field include 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, 2004 British Open winner Todd Hamilton, 2005 THE TOUR Championship winner Bart Bryant, two-time THE PLAYERS Championship and 2003 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington, 2002 INTERNATIONAL and PGA Championship winner Rich Beem, 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, five-time TOUR and nine-time international winner Jesper Parnevik, former U.S. Presidents Cup members Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan, former U.S. Ryder Cup members Chris DiMarco, Vaughn Taylor and J.J. Henry, Ryuji Imada, Paul Goydos, Jeff Quinney, Daniel Chopra and D.J. Trahan.
Drew Weaver, the 2007 British Amateur Open Champion and a rising senior at Virginia Tech, accepted a sponsor's exemption to compete in the tournament. A native of High Point, N.C., Weaver, 20, became the first American since 1979 to win the 2007 British Amateur Open. Additionally, the AT&T National handed out sponsor exemptions to Woods' former Stanford teammate Notay Begay, Chris Riley, Billy Andrade and Washington, D.C.-native Olin Browne (St. Alban's graduate). University of Virginia graduate and Fairfax, Va.-native Steve Marino is also in the field.
Top TOUR rookie performers looking to break out will be featured at the AT&T National.
Tim Wilkinson, of Palmerston North, New Zealand, collected the first top-10 of his PGA TOUR career with a T6 finish at the inaugural Puerto Rico Open. In March he finished third at the Zurich Classic after falling two-shots shy of winner Andres Romero. The left-hander is one of 14 2008 PGA TOUR rookies to come out of the 2007 Qualifying Tournament.
Australia's Matt Jones finished T4 at 2008 The Honda Classic, where he opened 66-67 and was in contention until the back nine on Sunday. He made his first ever start in a major championship at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Former Arizona State teammate Chez Reavie had made 11 of 16 cuts with a best finish of T5 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
Australian Jason Day is the youngest player on TOUR at 20 years old. The Nationwide Tour graduate has two top-10s, a solo sixth at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and a T8 at the Shell Houston Open.
Heavy-hitters will be in full force next week, including three of the TOUR's top-five ranked players in driving distance: #2 J.B. Holmes (389 ft); #4 Robert Garrigus (398 ft); and #5 Brett Wetterich (378 ft).
Reflecting the TOUR's and the Washington region's cultural diversity, representatives from 11 foreign countries will be competing including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, England, Germany, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and New Zealand.
Last year on the PGA TOUR, Congressional ranked as the ninth-hardest course, with a scoring average of 71.54 for the week on the par-70 layout. Four of the top five courses on TOUR in 2007 came at major championship venues. Out of the top-10 toughest courses in 2007 seven of them were played as a par-70.
The toughest hole at Congressional CC was the 489 yard par-4 11th hole, with a scoring average of 4.403 for the week. It ranked the 23rd hardest hole on TOUR last year and was the 20th hardest par-4. The Blue Course will play at 7,255 yards to 70 par.
Tickets, which start at just $25, can be ordered by calling 1-800-594-TIXX or visiting the tournament website at www.attnational.org.
About the Tiger Woods Foundation Since its inception in 1996 by Tiger Woods and his father Earl, the Tiger Woods Foundation has reached an estimated 10 million young people through character development, career exploration, scholarships and grant making programs. Programs developed and supported by the Tiger Woods Foundation all share a similar mission of empowering young people to dream big and to set specific goals to achieve their dreams.
Specific programs of the Foundation include the Tiger Woods Learning Center, a youth-education facility and curriculum based in Anaheim, California and Tiger's Action Plan, a nationwide character development program based on Earl D. Woods' book entitled Start Something. The Tiger Woods Foundation recently launched the Fist Pump Challenge, an online program allowing young people to post videos celebrating a personal goal or achievement. More information on the Tiger Woods Foundation and its programs can be found at www.tigerwoodsfoundation.org.
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About Congressional Country Club The Congressional Country Club, which opened in 1924, is par-72 course covering 7,173 yards. The course has played host to four majors--two U.S. Opens (1964 and 1997), one PGA Championship (1976) and the U.S. Senior Open (1995) and will host the U.S. Open once again in 2011. The Kemper Open was played there from 1980-86 and the Booz Allen Classic was held there in 2005.
Congressman Oscar E. Bland and O.R. Lubring of Indiana, founders of the Club, set out to provide an informal common ground where politicians and businessmen could meet as peers, unconstrained by red tape. They took their idea to Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, who agreed to serve as Founders' Club President and, from 1922-1923, Honorary Founding President of a soon-to-be-built Congressional Country Club. Primarily because of the determination of these original two visionaries, the Club was incorporated in December 1921. Construction of the Club took two and one-half years from concept to completion. Its international recognition, intended for the world of politics, has been achieved instead in the world of golf.
About the PGA TOUR The PGA TOUR is a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers. Its primary purpose is to provide competitive earnings opportunities for past, current and future members of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour; to protect the integrity of the game; and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world. In 2007, the three Tours will compete in approximately 110 events for approximately $340 million in prize money. Tournaments are being held in six countries outside the U.S. and in 36 states. In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, TOUR events also generate significant funds for local charities. In fact, the three Tours have surpassed the $1 billion mark in overall charitable contributions. The PGA TOUR's web site address is www.pgatour.com and the company is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
Contact: Emily Taylor/Rachel Rees, Tiger Woods Foundation, 301-365-6363