Castro grabs early lead with 66 at Congressional


While players were able to take advantage of Congressional Country Club during the 2011 U.S. Open, Thursday's opening round at the AT&T National showed that the course can pack a sizeable punch. Here's the skinny heading into the second round in our nation's capital, where many players will spend the overnight hours licking their wounds:

Leaderboard: Roberto Castro (-5), Billy Horschel (-3), Graham DeLaet (-3), Bud Cauley (-3), Jim Furyk (-2), Nicolas Colsaerts (-2), Brandt Snedeker (-2)

What it means: Playing to nearly 7,600 yards, the Blue Course was the winner Thursday as only 26 in the field of 132 were able to break par in the opening round. Among the few to succeed was Castro, who still seeks his first PGA Tour win and will begin Friday with a two-shot lead, though two of the hottest players around lurk just two shots behind.

Round of the day: Castro is no stranger to starting off well on tough courses, having stormed to an overnight lead at the Players last month thanks to an opening 63. Thursday at Congressional he bogeyed the 11th hole, his second of the day, but rebounded from that with a birdie on No. 12 and would not drop another shot the rest of the day. In total, the former Georgia Tech standout carded six birdies and shot a 4-under 32 on his inward nine.

Best of the rest: Coming off a career-best third place finish at the Travelers Championship, DeLaet picked up right where he left off, moving into contention again thanks to a 3-under 68. The Canadian carded six birdies around three bogeys Thursday at Congressional, riding a hot putter during the first round as he seeks a fourth straight top-25 finish.

Biggest disappointment: A runner-up in this event a year ago, Bo Van Pelt was considered a likely candidate to once again contend this week at Congressional. Instead, Van Pelt is likely facing an early exit following an 8-over 79 Thursday. The Oklahoman notched just one birdie while carding five bogeys and a pair of double bogeys, plummeting into a tie for 127th after the first round.

Storyline heading into Friday: Castro has started hot this year both at TPC Sawgrass and at the Humana Challenge, but has failed to maintain the momentum for four rounds. He'll need to keep up the pace, though, as the pack of players chasing him includes the red-hot Horschel and a pair of former FedEx Cup champions in Furyk and Snedeker.

Quote of the day: “Last week, after having a few good weeks, I took the foot off the accelerator and just kind of went through the motions. So my goal today was to be aggressive.' – Castro