WASHINGTON, D.C. — AT&T National returns to Congressional CC on Thursday, but most eyes were on Tiger Woods as he returned to the course for the first time since the U.S. Open.
Woods teed off with defending champion Nick Watney and former champion K.J. Choi at 12:50 p.m. EDT. He finished the day with a 1-over 72, which put him into a share of 30th place.
Bo Van Pelt shot 4-under 67 to set the first-round lead at Congressional. Vijay Singh, Brendon De Jonge and Jimmy Walker are all just one stroke behind at 3 under.
Tiger’s playing competitor Nick Watney finished at 1 under; K.J. Choi, the third member of the group, finished at 8 over.
17-year-old Beau Hossler, who made quite the splash at the U.S. Open, finished the day at even par for a share of 23rd.
For a shot-by-shot recap of Tiger’s round, check out our Tiger Tracker:
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No. 18, Par 4, 523 yards
• Off the tee: Tiger hits a straight, 356-yard drive down the fairway.
• Second shot: Tiger hits sand wedge to the back of the green.
• Around the green: Tiger putts from the fringe. He makes a good effort, but misses the birdie and taps in for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 18 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Nick Watney finishes at 1-under 70.
• • •
No. 17, Par 4, 437 yards
• Off the tee: Tiger hits a long iron off the tee 290 yards in the fairway, just in front of the downhill-rough.
• Second shot: With the ball just above his feet, Tiger’s second shot has a good line and lands in the middle of the green.
• On the green: Tiger has a slow, uphill birdie putt, which he fails to take advantage of. He taps in for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 17 holes)
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No. 16, Par 5, 579 yards
• Off the tee: Tiger hits a big drive and lands in the fairway with 245 yards left to the hole.
• Second shot: Tiger lands his 4-iron in a bunker on the left side of the green.
• Around the green: Tiger has an easy 50-foot bunker shot, but he pops the ball out too high – another poorly-executed sand shot.
• On the green: Tiger’s long birdie put runs out just before the hole. He taps in for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 16 holes)
• • •
No. 15, Par 4, 490 yards
• Off the tee: Tiger hits a sweeping 3-wood off the tee. He lands in the left-hand side of the fairway with a good angle and 138 yards to the hole.
• Approach shot: Tiger’s wedge shot fails by about one yard to get across the corner of a front-greenside bunker.
• Around the green: Tiger has a fairly easy bunker shot, but he takes too much sand, causing the ball to catch the fringe. He chunks his chip shot, leaving himself with 5 feet for bogey.
• On the green: Tiger makes his 5-foot bogey putt.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 15 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Co-leader Bo Van Pelt finishes the day at 4-under 67
• • •
No. 14, Par 4, 467 yards
Currently T-35, a birdie or two coming in could build some momentum for Tiger and his early tee time on Friday.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes 3-wood into the tight fairway and sends it right up the right side of the fairway.
• Approach shot: Hitting directly up the hill, Tiger takes 7-iron and lands it nearly pin-high and it runs out to about 10 feet beyond the hole.
• On the green: Tiger picks up his second birdie of the day, sneaking the putt in on the right side and he moves back to even par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 14 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Co-leader Brendon de Jonge has joined Jimmy Walker and Bo Van Pelt at 4 under after birdies at Nos. 4 and 5.
• • •
No. 13, Par 3, 193 yards
Tiger has to make sure not to go too long at this narrow par 3, with a mound causing problems off the back of the green.
• Off the tee: With 8-iron in hand, Tiger’s tee ball hits about 18 inches away from the pin and runs out to about eight feet beyond the hole.
• On the green: Tiger finds the right line on his birdie putt, but leaves it about six inches short and he picks up his 10th par of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 13 holes)
• • •
No. 12, Par 4, 471 yards
Tiger nearly saved an improbable par on the 11th, but will need to make sure to stay around even to keep himself in striking distance heading into Friday.
• Off the tee: Tiger blocks his tee ball a bit to the right, finding more rough and leaving himself about 200 yards into the back-right pin.
• Approach shot: From a gnarly lie in the rough, Tiger takes his second shot high into the air and hits the front of the green, but gets no release and leaves himself about 60 feet to the flag.
• On the green: Putting from another zip code, Tiger gives his birdie attempt a nice run and it settles about four feet under the hole. Tiger knocks that in for par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 12 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Bo Van Pelt saved par at the par-5 6th hole by chipping in from just off the green to stay at 4 under and in a tie for the lead with Jimmy Walker.
• • •
No. 11, Par 4, 489 yards
The scoring average is more than 73 currently at Congressional, playing nearly a full hole harder than the 2011 U.S. Open held at the course.
• Off the tee: Tiger has to be careful with this tee shot, with a creek running down the right side of the fairway. He flirts with that disaster, taking driver and playing a fade, but it moves a bit too far to the right and gets a good kick to stay out of the water, but will have a tough stance with his second shot.
• Approach shot: With about 165 yards left to the front-left pin, Tiger has a horrible lie and has to simply punch it out into the fairway and leaves himself a wedge into the green.
• Third shot: Tiger plays a beautiful shot into the green, using a bump-and-run to get it to about six feet beyond the hole.
• On the green: With a quick, but fairly straight putt, Tiger misses the par putt about an inch to the right and he picks up his second bogey of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 11 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: K.J. Choi is not having the day he would’ve liked. Choi is 6 over through 10 holes and has not made a birdie. He most recently doubled the par-3 10th. Other notables playing this afternoon who are over par include amateur Jordan Spieth (2 over), Patrick Cantlay (4 over) and Nick Watney (1 over).
• • •
No. 10, Par 3, 218 yards
That birdie has to feel nice for Tiger, taking advantage of arguably the course’s toughest hole and playing it perfectly.
• Off the tee: Tiger has water to worry about in front of the green, but clears it (barely) and it bounds to about 35 feet left of the flag.
• On the green: Tiger hits it firmly and slides it by on the right by about 18 inches and knocks that in to clean up his par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 10 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: K.J. Choi, playing with Tiger, is 6 over through 10 holes.
• • •
No. 9, Par 5, 636 yards
This hole is a beast and the fairway is guarded by bunkers on both sides. Coming away with par is an accomplishment.
• Off the tee: Tiger pulls driver and sends it up the left side of the fairway and flirts with the first cut off rough.
• Second shot: He did find the fairway, but really can’t attack the green and just advances it up the fairway to leave himself about 150 yards for his third shot.
• Approach shot: Tiger is looking good with his shorter irons, playing a beautiful shot into the green, settling about four feet to the right of the flag.
• On the green: Tiger gives the putt a nice whack going up the hill and makes birdie to make the turn at even par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 9 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Jimmy Walker has had himself a dynamite front nine with four birdies and no bogeys. He has two straight birdies and is tied for the lead at 4 under heading into the par-3 10th.
• • •
No. 8, Par 4, 354 yards
The shortest par 4 on the course, but it can be dangerous to attack the dogleg right, as bunkers and trees line the right side of the fairway.
• Off the tee: Tiger finally hits another fairway (the first since his opening hole), sending it up the right side and leaving himself about 115 yards to the front-left pin position.
• Approach shot: Tiger puts a really nice swing on his second shot, and lands it nearly pin-high and about 8 feet to the right of the pin for a solid look at birdie.
• On the green: Tiger completely misreads the birdie putt and runs it nearly 3 feet past, but does knock that in for a par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 8 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Bo Van Pelt is your new leader after he made birdie at the par-3 second hole. The birdie follows his eagle at No. 1 and Van Pelt is now 4 under for the round and 4 under in his last four holes. Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh, Brendon de Jonge and James Driscoll are all one stroke back, with Singh the only one in the clubhouse.
• • •
No. 7, Par 3, 173 yards
While this is the shortest hole on the course, the double-terraced green and deep bunkers on left and right can create problems.
• Off the tee: With the pin in the front, Tiger takes it right over the flag, but it has too much mustard and settles about 45 feet behind the hole.
• On the green: Tiger’s birdie attempt has nice pace, but it stays right of the flag and he leaves himself 2 feet for par. He knocks that in for his sixth par of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 7 holes)
• • •
No. 6, Par 5, 555 yards
Accuracy off the tee has been a problem for Tiger thus far on Thursday, but he’ll need to get that straightened out if he hopes to take advantage of one of Congressional’s easier holes.
• Off the tee: Well, that is another missed fairway, sending it up the left side about 305 yards, but finding the rough.
• Second shot: With water lining the right side of the green, Tiger has to be careful with this shot, despite being only about 250 yards from the flag. He lays up, sending it about 130 yards down the middle of the fairway, setting up about the same distance into the green.
• Approach shot: Tiger takes wedge from 130 yards and it takes a big hop to the right, but he will have about 16 feet for birdie.
• On the green: Tiger is a bit aggressive on his first stroke, taking the birdie putt about two feet past, but knocks in the comebacker for another par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 6 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: With a birdie at the par-5 16th, Brendon de Jonge has now birdied three of his last four holes and is tied for the lead at 3 under. De Jonge, who is through seven holes, is tied with Vijay Singh, who is already in the clubhouse with a 68, and James Driscoll, who just bogeyed No. 8.
• • •
No. 5, Par 4, 413 yards
Tiger takes to the elevated tee box after his first miscue of the day. This is feeling like a grind-it-out round for Tiger, as he is struggling to hit greens in regulation – hitting only the green at No. 1.
• Off the tee: The fairway slopes pretty severely at this dogleg left, but Tiger takes his 3-wood a bit too far out to the right and finds the rough yet again, this time leaving himself about 150 yards to the flag that is protected by a bunker in the front right.
• Approach shot: Tiger seems to be having a bit of distance control, sending his approach right over the flag, but just off the back of the green and leaves himself more than 20 feet to the hole.
• Around the green: Tiger plays a wonderful shot to about three feet above the hole, which he’ll have for another par save.
• On the green: While it isn’t pretty, Tiger is managing to save pars for the most part, nailing this 3-footer to stay at 1 over.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 5 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Beau Hossler has just finished his opening round. The 17-year-old amateur is even par after making bogey at No. 18. Some quick stats from Hossler’s round: Four birdies, four bogeys, 25 putts, 321-yard driving average and 59 percent of greens hit in regulation. Meanwhile, James Driscoll just birdied the par-5 sixth to move to 3 under and into a three-way tie for the lead.
• • •
No. 4, Par 4, 470 yards
While most would probably pull driver here – despite a tight landing area at the dogleg-right par 4 – Tiger must avoid trouble, and his driver doesn’t seem to be his most comfortable club in recent weeks.
• Off the tee: Tiger does pull driver and sends it 310 yards up the left side, but finds the deep left rough.
• Approach shot: Tiger has really no chance to get to the green, so simply advances the ball back into the fairway and leaves himself about 60 yards to the green for his third shot.
• Third shot: Tiger takes his wedge shot over the flag and it settles about 30 feet from the cup.
• On the green: Tiger gives his par-save putt a good run, but comes up about 18 inches short. He taps that in and drops his first shot of the day.
TIGER ON THE DAY: 1 over (thru 4 holes)
• • •
No. 3, Par 4, 466 yards
Tiger will need to be careful of the three bunkers that line the right side of the fairway and the tall pines that protect the left side.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes fairway wood again and sends it up the left side, finding the rough and leaving himself about 180 yards to the front-left pin.
• Approach shot: Tiger pushes his approach shot to the right and lands in some greenside rough, where he’ll be faced with a tough up-and-down.
• Around the green: Tiger chips out of the long stuff to a little less than five feet, which he’ll have for par.
• On the green: Despite missing a second-straight green in regulation, Tiger manages to save par. There are only 16 players under par currently.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 3 holes)
• • •
No. 2, Par 3, 233 yards
With a ridge running through the middle of this green, Tiger will need to get it back to the pin that is in the middle. With temperatures soaring at Congressional, the dark ensemble of grey shirt and black pants could cause some extra sweating this afternoon for Tiger.
• Off the tee: Tiger takes a bit too much club – a 3-wood! – and runs a bit off the back of the green and will have about 30 feet from the intermediate cut of rough for birdie.
• Around the green: Tiger hits his second shot from just off the green to about two feet and knocks in his par putt.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 2 holes)
• Elsewhere on the course: Vijay Singh turned in his seventh birdie of the day, closing out his first round with a birdie at the par-4 18th to move into a share of the lead at 3 under.
• • •
No. 1, Par 4, 402 yards
Tiger approaches the tee box at this straightaway par 4, with bunkers lining both sides of the fairway. With Tiger’s distance, he might be able to clear the far-left bunker to get in prime scoring position, but that would go against his control game he has been showing off in recent weeks.
• Off the tee: Tiger uses less-than-driver and smacks it up the right side of the fairway, leaving himself in nice position to attack the back-left pin position.
• Approach shot: From a little less than 160 yards, Tiger lands it on the middle of the green, but leaves himself nearly 40 feet from right to left for his birdie attempt.
• On the green: With the first hole being only one of three holes playing under par on Thursday, Tiger misses an early opportunity with a two-putt par.
TIGER ON THE DAY: Even (thru 1 hole)
• Elsewhere on the course: With four holes left in his first round, Billy Hurley III is in sole possession of the lead at 3 under and hasn’t notched worse than a par all day. He leads Vijay Singh and James Driscoll by one stroke. Also, Beau Hossler is at 1 under through 14 holes.
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Update #1: 12:47 p.m. EDT
An early look at the leaderboard shows 17-year-old Beau Hossler hanging tough, sitting T-5 at 1 under through 13 holes. The soon-to-be senior is two shots off Billy Hurley III’s early lead at 3 under.
Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson are both in the clubhouse at 1 under, as is Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III.
• • •
Tiger makes his return to the field
As the Tour returns to Congressional for the first time since the 2011 U.S. Open, Tiger Woods returns to the AT&T National field for the first time since 2009. 5 Things
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Tiger Woods not the favorite this week?
Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour this week, but it is Hunter Mahan that is a favorite of our fantasy panel at the AT&T National at Congressional. Fantasy Tip Sheet.