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The Tour Report

June 27 2013

6:30 PM

Congressional still a major test

Roberto Castro shot a 66 Thursday to take a two-shot lead at Congressional. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

BETHESDA, Md. -- It's been two years since Congressional hosted the U.S. Open.

You might not know it judging by Thursday's scores in the opening round of the AT&T National.

Just 27 players broke here, including Roberto Castro, who leads after a 66.

The first-round lead of the U.S. Open when it was last played here? A 65 with 21 players under par.

"The rough's brutal," said Castro, who leads by two over Billy Horschel, Bud Cauley and Graham DeLaet. "It's very similar (to a U.S. Open) in that there's not a lot of birdies out there. You're just plugging along."

Castro was one of the few who did make birdies -- six of them in all -- while making just one bogey.

While Castro didn't play in the U.S. Open two weeks ago, Horschel did, tying for fourth.

He didn't mind the tough conditions this week, either.

"I just think I'm a good ball striker, so I know I'm always going to at least be able to control my golf shots from the tee into the green," said Horschel, who birdied three of his first four holes on Thursday. "The tougher the golf course, the better I play."

Jim Furyk, who is one of eight players another stroke back at 2 under, has won a U.S. Open before and is familiar with the conditions.

Still, he was surprised at just how tough Congressional has played so far.

When he got to the seventh tee, he was surprised to see he was near the lead despite being just 1 under at the time.

"I was scratching my head going, wow, the scores are pretty tough today," Furyk said. "Then I was kind of excited because I had some opportunities in front of me."

Including a birdie on the next hole en route to a 69. It was only one of three birdies on the day for Furyk.

"It's a long, hard golf course," Furyk continued.

Others found out the hard way.

Masters champ Adam Scott finished with a 73. Despite hitting 15 greens, he struggled with his putting, taking 35 putts in all.

"There was a lid on the hole," he quipped.

Hunter Mahan, who played in the final pairing at Merion two weeks ago, shot a 75 that included five bogeys, one double bogey and three birdies.

Charlie Beljan, who won last year at Disney, had a nightmare day, shooting an 84 -- which matched the highest score shot here in the opening round of the U.S. Open two years ago.