June 28 2012
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Hunter Mahan was standing on the 18th green at Congressional when he told his caddie, John Wood, “For 2 1/2 hours of golf if 90 percent of the field is over par, you know it’s playing tough.”
Mahan should know. He hit “great” and managed just a 1-under 70 Thursday in the opening round of the AT&T National.
“There's not a whole lot of birdie holes,” Mahan added. “You're not going to get lucky around here. You've really got to be smart and know the scores are going to be tough and not be overly aggressive. You can't afford to make silly bogeys if you have an opportunity to make a birdie.”
It’s certainly different than last week, when Mahan shot a career-low 61 in the final round of the Travelers Championship, and different than last year’s U.S. Open here. One caddie said it’s playing tougher than it did last June.
Mahan didn’t disagree.
“It's perfect as it gets from the rough perspective, and the greens are rolling very true,” Mahan said. “It's playing similar, but this is probably tougher.”
Mahan also felt he played better than his score, another indicator of how difficult Congressional is playing.
“I was never in trouble,” he said. “I wasn't stressed out there. I didn't have to save a lot of holes. I was just hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens.”