Tough test at Congressional awaits players

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BETHESDA, Md. – Talk around Congressional on the eve of this week’s AT&T National was how difficult the Blue Course is playing. Turns out the layout the U.S. Golf Association wanted for last year’s U.S. Open arrived 12 months too late.

“It’s harder,” said Gary Woodland, who tied for 23rd at last year’s Open which was won by Rory McIlroy with a 16-under total. “Last year we had graduated rough. This week’s it’s just thick all the way up to the fairway. You can be a foot off the fairway and in serious trouble.”

In an informal poll of players and caddies, the consensus at Congressional was that an even-par total could be good enough to win this week’s stop. “It’s that hard,” Erik Compton said. “You hit a chip and it just runs out. How are you going to hold a (tee) shot at No. 10.”

That even-par prediction is in dramatic contrast to the soft, wet layout players faced at last year’s U.S. Open when 20 players finished under par for the week and McIlroy shattered numerous scoring records.

Record high temperatures are forecast for later in the week and could force officials to douse Congressional’s greens and alter those predictions, however.