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Weather-Delayed Third Round of AT&T National Finds de Jonge in the Lead & Tiger on the Prowl
A powerful storm that came through the Washington, D.C., area Friday night and caused at least five deaths and knocked out electricity in over 1 million homes also wreaked havoc at the $6.5 million AT&T National golf tournament.
The start of Saturday's third round of the PGA Tour event at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., was delayed six hours after the storm had uprooted over 40 trees, including a 75-footer that crashed across the 14th fairway. Nearly every wooden tee box sign was ripped from its posts, and thousands of branches were left scattered around the course.
Once play began at 1:00 p.m., the tournament proceeded. But because of safety concerns, the third round was closed to spectators and volunteers, a very rare occurrence. Besides the 80 players making the 36-hole cut, only security, tournament officials, players' families, news media and workers were allowed on the course. One tent was kept open, supplying sandwiches to the volunteers who keep score and spot golf balls in the rough.
The players noticed the eeriness of the situation. "It was just so quiet," Jim Furyk told PGATour.com. "It was odd." The veteran player then added, "It's more fun when you get a reaction from the fans."
Amateur Beau Hossler is used to low attendance at the tournaments he usually plays in; his only audience members were his mom, step-dad, sister and a cousin. "It kind of felt like a junior tournament," Hossler told PGATour.com. "It is nice to have some people to bounce it off if you hit it in the trees, but other than that it was no different. We were lucky to get out there and play."
de Jonge Takes Lead
Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge became the 54-hole leader after carding a 2-under 69 to reach 7-under 206, one stroke ahead of Bo Van Pelt and tournament host Tiger Woods, who both shot 4-under 67s, and South Korean Seung-Yul Noh (69).
Woods, the AT&T National winner in 2009, carded three birdies on the front nine and another on the back to get into contention. He needed only 25 putts Saturday.
Billy Hurley III (66) and 36-hole leader Hunter Mahan (73) are tied for fourth at 208. Also in the hunt is Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas (68) at 209.
A 54-hole cut was set at 8-over 221. Hossler's 77 eliminated him from playing Sunday; he was joined by 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, who shot a 76.
Notes & Quotes
PGA Tour official Mark Russell gave kudos to Congressional's head of grounds, Mike Giuffre, and his staff for cleaning up the course and making it playable. "When I came in here this morning I didn't think that we had a chance to play. I mean, giant trees down on fairways, cart paths blocked, just trees everywhere down, just right at the base, like a tornado went through here," Russell said.
"No power, no anything," added Russell. "But those guys and their crew worked so hard and we're able to play golf at 1:00. I'm amazed. Let's hope the weather cooperates this afternoon and we can get finished. I expect us to finish around 8:00, 8:15, something like that."
Russell had no recollection of when a PGA Tour event was played without a gallery and full staff of volunteers in attendance. "I can't remember that. I can't remember that," he said. "But once again, it's a situation where it's dangerous out there with a lot of limbs down, a lot of trees down, places to walk. With a large gallery, we just thought it would be best for everyone and everyone's interest and safety that we didn't allow that today. Y'all know what an extreme measure that is."
According to PGATour.com, because there's still a lot of debris on the course, the final round has been pushed back - with players going off both the first and 10th tees -around 11 a.m. ET.
As for weather, there's no break in sight, with more temperatures in excess of 100 degrees forecast for Sunday.
For updated scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard.