Small 'galleries' gathered at Congressional after all


BETHESDA, Md. – At 2:40 p.m. ET, approximately 50 people gathered around the first tee to watch Tiger Woods tee off in the third round of the AT&T National. With fans and most volunteers told by tournament officials to stay away from Congressional CC after a nasty storm on Friday night, why did Woods have a gallery at all?

As it turns out, a mixture of volunteers, Tiger Woods Foundation staff, Congressional workers done for the day and other tournament workers took in some of the action.

Tournament officials announced at 7:20 a.m. that fans and most volunteers should not come to Congressional. With a large clean-up already in progress, even a modest percentage of the expected 25,000-30,000 fans and 2,000 volunteers on the property would have hampered that effort.

For a PGA Tour event round to operate, however, there has to be some help. Walking scorers and marshals were needed to help live scoring and serve as spotters for players' shots.

Joe Enright, a walking scorer, heard on his emergency radio that volunteers were not supposed to show. Without power and an Internet connection, he was phoned by chairman of the walking scorers, Ann Flanagan, a little after 9 a.m., asking if he could make it. 

'As far as I'm concerned,' he said, 'it went very smoothly.'

Sherrie Balko had been working the par-5 16th this week. Her hole captain called her a little after 10 a.m. asking if she could make it. She could, arriving to work at a different par 5, the sixth hole.

'It's eerily quiet out here,' she said. 'Aside from the generator running at that guy's house (adjacent to the hole).'

It was an eventful afternoon, however, as Balko said several players needed rulings after hitting their balls into a newly created brush area where a tree fell.

'More golfers have said thank you to me today than ever,' said Balko, who started volunteering three years ago.

Adam Gottlieb, a Congressional staffer working this week in the players' lounge, showed up for work on time. 

'Any staffer who was supposed to be here before 7 still came,' he said. 

He arrived at 4 a.m., ready to open an hour later for whoever arrived. He had a customer 15 minutes after opening. Y.E. Yang was scheduled to play at 7:10 a.m. He showed up to the players' lounge in the clubhouse at 5:15 a.m.