Steven Fox made a birdie on the fifth hole from the eighth green on Thursday. (Hallowell/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
BETHESDA, Md. -- Billy Horschel began the tournament on the 10th tee, a difficult 195-yard par 3 over water. He hit it comfortably to within 51 feet of the cup and then made it for birdie. Horschel’s first putt, of the entire tournament, was a 51-foot birdie. He had spent the last week in Florida working on his putting stroke, believing he was taking it inside. Apparently, that has been corrected. Horschel would take just 27 putts for the entire round while shooting 3-under 68. On the flip side, Horschel needed to putt well after hitting only five fairways.
Eagle: Nick Watney had just one birdie on the day, along with a pair of bogeys and yet shot 1 under. How did he pull off that trick? Watney holed a 146-yard wedge at the fourth. He was between a soft 9-iron and a hard wedge and Watney said he got, “all the club he could on the ball,” then watched from the fairway as it landed a little long and neatly spun back into the cup.
Overrated: Who needs to hit fairways? Brandt Snedeker’s golf ball never touched the short grass on the ninth hole. He pulled his drive to the left and decided to play up the fourth hole. His second shot also found the rough and he played his third from 142 yards away, onto the green. Just getting it on the putting surface was good play but Snedeker saved the best for last by holing a 55-footer for birdie at the par 5. Snedeker had recently strengthened his putting grip, thinking it would help square the blade and release the toe.
Weather: PGA TOUR officials admit they were very lucky with the weather in the opening round. There was a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms and twice lightning approached the course, only to veer north. Most of the opening round was played under a tornado watch, in which conditions were favorable for severe weather but the danger never materialized.
Rough: Players walked off the course muttering the same mantra, “Congressional is playing long and the rough is very difficult.”
Angel Cabrera had a nice combination working in which he hit 11 of 14 fairways while averaging 313.5 yards per drive. He ranks second in total driving, second only to Robert Garrigus who averaged an impressive 327 off the tee while hitting 10 fairways.
Cabrera shot 70 while Garrigus carded 72, suffering a triple bogey at the second hole.
Whoops: Steven Fox is playing as an amateur and he had a slightly embarrassing moment at the fifth hole. He pulled his drive onto the eighth green while Snedeker was hitting his approach onto the putting surface. Suddenly, there were four golf balls on the green. Fox was entitled to free relief and took a drop, just off the putting surface. After suffering some good-natured ribbing from the Snedeker group, Fox hit his approach onto the fifth green from 122 yards away and made the putt for birdie. He ended up shooting 76.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here