Bo Van Pelt kept bogeys off his card and picked up an extra shot when his wedge spun back into the hole for an eagle. It’s a formula that would work well at a U.S. Open, which is what Congressional felt like Thursday at the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md.
On a day when the temperature was in the 90s and only seven players managed a score in the 60s, Van Pelt opened with a 4-under 67 to grab a one-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Brendon De Jonge and Jimmy Walker, who bogeyed his final hole.
Tiger Woods was never under par in the afternoon and opened with a 1-over 72.
So this is what the U.S. Open was supposed to look like.
The venerable Blue Course took a beating last year in the so-called toughest test in golf when unfavorable weather conditions in the weeks leading up to the U.S. Open and overnight rain during the championship made Congressional a pushover. Rory McIlroy had a record score of 16-under 268 for an eight-shot victory.
The AT&T National was more of a grind.
Woods missed the U.S. Open last year while recovering from injuries to his left leg. He won at Congressional in 2009 the last time the AT&T National was played here, and he won at 13-under 267. That was nothing like the course he faced Thursday.
Billy Hurley III, Pat Perez and Jason Day were at 2-under 69.
Bruce Vaughan matched the lowest round of his career with a 6-under 64 for a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk in the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh, the third of five Champions Tour majors. Seattle native Fred Couples, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., was in a group of four who were two strokes back. … France’s Gregory Bourdy and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh shot 7-under 65s to share the first-round lead at the Irish Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland, while home favorite McIlroy was five strokes back.