July 1 2012
BETHESDA, Md. -- Fans will be allowed back at Congressional Country Club for Sunday’s final round.
When they arrive, they’ll see a familiar name near the top of the leaderboard.
Tiger Woods, who won the AT&T National the last time it was played here in 2009, is one shot back of leader Brendon de Jonge after the quietest 67 of his career.
The course was closed to spectators after a storm wreaked havoc on the area overnight, knocking out power and uprooting several trees. Even though crews worked through the night to get Congressional playable, navigating the course would have been difficult and unsafe for spectators.
Woods didn’t have any problem doing just that.
His 67 included a chip-in for birdie on the sixth hole and left him in a tie for second with Bo Van Pelt, who matched Woods’ round.
“I told Tiger that was a Bo Van Pelt crowd, so I was used to that,” Van Pelt joked. “I was very comfortable with 10 or 15 people watching me play golf.”
Most players didn’t have that many people following them with only employees, club members and media on the ground most of the day.
“It was nice to just get it in,” Van Pelt said. “I think we're all fortunate that nobody got hurt out here last night. It's a credit to the grounds staff that they got this golf course ready. I'm sure if you saw pictures of what it looked like at midnight the fact that we played golf today is a minor miracle.”
De Jonge said the lack of a gallery took a little while to get used to.
”It's nice to have people out there and get the buzz and kind of feed off adrenaline,” he said.
The former Virginia Tech standout via Zimbabwe created plenty of his own, even if few were on hand to see it.
De Jonge made three birdies and just one bogey to shoot a second straight 69.
Now he’ll try to win for the first time on the PGA TOUR.
“Winning here would be that much more special,” de Jonge said. “But obviously I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow.”
So did the maintenance staff.
They were still working to clean up the course after the round. As a result, the final round tee times were pushed back and players will again go off both tees and in groups of three.