Then a lot of things happened real fast.
Tiger Woods jumped in as the tournaments host.
AT&T came aboard as title sponsor.
Congressional Country Club, located just outside our nations capitol, and former host to two U.S. Opens, agreed to provide the venue.
Then last week former President George Bush showed up for the Pro-Am.
Special amenities were provided for American service men and women at the golf course.
And, lo and behold, golf had a winner on its hands before the event even started.
These dates used to belong to the Western Open and everybody else was always jealous. But a member of the Western Golf Association told me earlier this year that title sponsors (the Western went through plenty in recent years) werent enamored of the dates. The reason: It was hard to get corporate clients to show up during a week when many were home with their families.
Washington D.C. provided an entirely different dynamic than Chicago. And the marketing opportunity turned out to be a slam dunk.
Add to that plenty of back-nine drama Sunday, including K.J. Chois holed bunker shot on the 71st hole that led to a three-shot victory over Steve Stricker.
Absolutely unbelievable, said Choi, who also won the tournament Jack Nicklaus hosts earlier this year. Call it the Legend Double. Chois victory pushed him up to No. 13 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Strickers runner-up finish boosted him to No. 8 on the current U.S. Presidents Cup point standings.
This was a dream come true for all of us, said Woods who birdied his final two holes and wound up tied for sixth. Everythings come together. Its been a perfect week.
For almost everybody.
Life definitely did not begin at 40 for 36-year-old, third-round leader Stuart Appleby. Forty was how many strokes Appleby needed on Sundays front nine. The damage included a double-bogey on the par-3 second and consecutive bogeys on holes 4 through 7.
By that time Applebys name was barely discernible on the leaderboard. And he suffered the ultimate TV indignity when CBS stopped showing most of the Australians shots even though he was playing in the final group with Choi.
Appleby had discovered a crack in his driver late during Saturdays round. And it clearly affected him early on Sunday. This is the same Stuart Appleby who faltered down the stretch at the Shell Houston Open won by countryman Adam Scott on April Fools Day.
Appleby also owned solo possession of first place after 54 holes at this years Masters one week later. Again he came up short, finishing tied for seventh.
Appleby did not talk to reporters after his round Sunday at Congressional.
Choi, on the other hand, had roared from five shots back at The Memorial early last month and posted a Sunday 65 to edge Ryan Moore and capture his fifth victory on the PGA TOUR. To put that achievement in perspective, it tied him in career wins with Tom Lehman, one of the best players of his generation and a former world No. 1. Now Choi has six.
Not too bad for the sturdy South Korean nicknamed Tank.
I like it, Choi said when asked about his moniker. The meaning thats on it is similar to how Ive lived my life. Dont look back. Just move forward, just like a tank.
Attendance on the weekend at Congressional was estimated at 75,000.
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