By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- There weren't many similarities between Roberto Castro's 63 last month at THE PLAYERS Championship and Thursday's 66 at the AT&T National.
Except where Castro was after the opening round.
Castro is atop the leaderboard for the third time this season after 18 holes -- he shared the first-round lead at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation earlier this season as well.
"They were totally different rounds," Castro said. "The one at Sawgrass, I hit it three feet eight or nine times. The one today was more of a normal lower round where I made some putts."
Among his 23 total putts were five that he made from outside of 10 feet. He also didn't miss from inside that distance and finished with six birdies and just one bogey on a difficult day of scoring at Congressional, which played closer to a U.S. Open setup rather than a regular TOUR event.
"The rough's brutal," Castro said. "We probably were 50 percent you'd get it up to the green and 50 percent pitching out."
On the 473-yard par-4 fourth, for example, Castro had to play out nearly sideways before hitting onto the green and making an 8-footer to save par.
"It's very similar (to a U.S. Open) in that there's not a lot of birdies out there," Castro said. "You're just plugging along. Golf course hasn't changed much in two years."
Castro didn't qualify for this year's U.S. Open, but he has gotten off to a good start a few times this year. Thursday marked the fourth time this season he shot 66 or lower in the opening round.
It's also his best score since that 63 at TPC Sawgrass. The next day there, he shot 78.
"In that tournament, there was a lot of hoopla, I guess you could say," Castro said. "There's a lot going on here, too. But it was just a different level of circus that week."
What did he take from it?
"A lot," he said. "If I play a good round and I play well, I can play as good as anybody. And then I took a lot from Friday where I didn't shoot a good score, but the last six holes I played nicely and settled down."