By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Bo Van Pelt seems to be comfortable at Congressional Country Club no matter what the conditions.
A year ago, he tied for 14th in the U.S. Open here, playing his last three rounds at par or better.
Van Pelt also made it through two British Open qualifiers here.
Thursday, he shot a 4-under 67 to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the AT&T National, where scoring was as high as the temperatures on a hot day in suburban Washington, D.C.
Congressional played more than 2 1/2 strokes over par and four players failed to break 80. Only 22 players in the field broke par.
“I said it last year, they needed one more year, and basically you could have a U.S. Open here this week if you wanted it,” Van Pelt said. “That's the way it's set up. The rough is very uniform, it's very thick. The greens are firm and they're fast. It's a great golf course, and when it's set up like that, it's going to play tough all week.”
Not that you could tell watching Van Pelt. He was the only player without a bogey on his scorecard Thursday.
He was also aided by an eagle on No. 1 -- his 10th hole of the day -- when he holed out from 93 yards.
“I actually thought it had kind of spun back in front of the hole, and all of a sudden this guy behind the green started going nuts,” Van Pelt said.
He also had two birdies on the day and took just 24 putts, tied for the fewest in the field.
“That's improved the most,” Van Pelt said. “I've stuck with one putter since last year in the fall, and it's probably the longest stretch I've done that since I was a kid.”
But just how hard did Congressional play?
“Probably not,” Van Pelt said when asked if he’d played a tougher course this year. “I would say Olympic maybe it was hard, in a different way, but that's all you want out there right now for sure.”