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AT&T National

Tournament Preview

The grass will be just as green, the winning share just as large, but some of the dazzle is off the shine for this year's AT&T National which begins Thursday at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

World No.1 Tiger Woods, the defending champion, is out with an injury, and US Open champion Justin Rose pulled out of the field two days ago, citing fatigue. Rose was the 2010 champion of the AT&T National.

Of course, there's still one major name in the field, Masters champion Adam Scott, who finished third here two years ago.

Travelers' champion Ken Duke also returns, along with top players including Hutner Mahan, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler at the par 71, 7,569-yard course with $6.5 million on the line.

Woods won the tournament, of which his charitable organization is a major factor in, last year with an 8-under 276, taking a two-stroke victory over Bo Van Pelt.

The course has some of the richest history in America. Founded in 1924, Herbert Hoover was the club's first president, and other founding members included former Presidents William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. The course hosted the US Open in 2011.

The course is a good mix of long fairways, bunkers and a few water hazards. The par-5 No. 9 stretches 636 yards, while No. 10 measures a meager 218 yards, but this par-3 has a big lake smack dab in front of the green.

There are 132 golfers in the initial field, with the top trio consisting of Scott and fellow Australians Mar Leishman and Jason Day. Day has enjoyed plenty of success at this course, finishing eighth in 2012 and second at the US Open in 2011. The trio are on the move at 12:27 p.m. Thursday.
 
Top Americans Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan, along with South Korea's K.J.

Choi are on the tee at 12:39 p.m., while the 7:27 a.m. bunch consists of two former US Open champions in Jim Furyk and Angel Cabrera, who will move along the course with Rickie Fowler.

06/27/13, Thursday

Ranked 115th on the money list and a pro for only five years didn't make for much of a case of stage fright for Roberto Castro at the AT&T National on Thursday.

The 28-year-old native of Houston fired a 5-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead at the tournament benefiting Tiger Woods' foundation.

Castro raced out of the gate with birdies on four of his first seven holes and hit just one bogey in the entire round to lead Americans Billy Horschel and Bud Cauley, and Canada's Graham DeLaet by two strokes entering Friday.

Horschel was just the opposite - 1-over through seven before stringing together fou  birdies in a six-hole stretch.

DeLaet, in the running most of last week at the Travelers' Championship, knocked three birdies in four holes down the stretch to reach 3-under.

Just 27 players out of the 132-man field were under par at the conclusion of the first round. A gaggle of eight players including Americans Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker are tied fof fifth at 2-under, while 15 more, including notables Vijay Singh, ANgel Cabrera and Jason Day, are four strokes off the lead at 1-under.

The day was almost as much about who struggled as who did well. Masters champion Adam Scott sat at 2-over after one round, sevens trokes off the lead thanks to his 73 that saw him struggle after reaching the turn 1-under.

Travelers champion Ken Duke fired an even 71 despite three bogeys in the middle of his round. Way off the pace is world No. 4 Hunter Mahan, who finished with a 4-over 75.

Mahan bogeyed three of the first five holes before using back-to-back birdies to hit the turn 2-over. He gave back that momentum with a double bogey 6 on No. 11.

06/28/13, Friday


Rain washed out a significant portion of the second round of the AT&T National on Friday, but it couldn't dampen the spirits of 19-year-old University of Texas star Jorda Spieth, who fired a 5-under 66 to tie for the tournament's overall lead.

Last year's NCAA champion, Spieth set the tone early with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 1, then hit birdies on the final five holes of the front nine. He put a string of nine pars together on the back nine to hold his score through to 5-under.

Spieth turns 20 in about a month.

His red-hot round has him tied for the lead at 7-under with fellow Texan Roberto Castro, who shot a 2-under 69 to follow up his own 5-under 66 on Thursday.
Castro put totgether a round of three birdies and one bogey, which came on No. 3.

Korea's D.H. Lee matched Spieth's low round of 66 to drop to 5-under for the tournament and a tie for third with Argentina's Andres Romero, was is 4-under on the day, but had to stop play after 13 holes because of the rain.

Romero had recorded back-to-back birdies before being forced off the course by foul weather. He will finish his second round on Saturday morning, then begin the third round later in the day.

Two other Americans, Cameron Tringale and James Driscoll are three strokes off the lead at 4-under. Tringale fired a 4-under 67 on Friday to jump from 28th to the tie for fifth.

While the lesser-knowns of the tour continued tos et the pace, more familiar names struggled on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker shot an even-par 71 to fall from fifth to a tie for 14th. Last week's Travelers Champion Ken Duke started his round in wild fashion, with an eagle on No. 1 and a bogey on No. 2, staying at 1-under through eight holes before having to leave the course.

Masters champion Adam Scott shot an even par 71, but is still 2-over for the tournament, tying him for 57th place. That keeps him just barely in contention for the projected 2-over cut coming when Round 2 is completed on Saturday morning.

Notable players currently on the wrong side of that cut line include Sang-Moon Bae, Hunter Mahan and Scott Stallings.
 
06/29/13, Saturday

The field might not have Tiger Woods or Justin Rose in it, but the AT&T National is shaping up to have one heck of a photo finish on Sunday.

Four players  - Americans James Driscoll, Bill Haas, Roberto Castro - and Argentin'as Andres Romero sit atop the leaderboard at 7-under, while another 11 players are within four strokes of the lead headed for the final 18 holes on Sunday.

Saturday's tournament highlight was more of a lowlight for the tour itself as South Korea's D.H. Lee, who had been tied for third to start the day, reacted to a fan in the galley after a rough stretch on the 12th hole by raising his middle finger.

Lee fell almost completely out of contention with a 4-over 75 to tumble to a tie for 20th at 1-under through 54 holes.

Also following off his charmed pace of the first two rounds was 19-year-old Jordan Spieth, who was 3-over on the day following his 5-under 66 on Friday, falling from a tie for first to a tie for eighth at 4-under, still only three strokes off the lead.

Spieth looked like he would keep the good times rolling on Saturday when he birdied the first two holes, but gave it all back and more as he misfired to the tune of four bogeys and one double bogey between No. 8 and No. 14.

Meanwhile, Driscoll and Haas, which sounds like a pretty decent name for a law firm, were the biggest movers on the day, each recording a 3-under 68 to claw their way into a tie at the top.

Driscoll hit five birdies and just two bogeys for his third straight round under par. The 35-year-old Boston native is looking for a considerable improvement in his 2013 paydays, currently ranked just 99th on the money list.

Haas had about as wild a round as a player can have and still come out ahead. He only recorded four pars on the day, only one on the front nine. His first nine holes consisted of six birdies and two bogeys, the back nine featured three birdies, a bogey and a double bogey 7 on No. 12.

No. 24 on the money list this year, Haas has been as hot and cold on tour as he was in this round. He has five previous Top 10 finishes in 2013, but also missed the cut at Wells Fargo, the Players Championship and the US Open.

Castro looked like was going to cough up the lead he had enjoyed for the first few days for good when he bogeyed No. 2 and doubled No. 3, but he rounded back into form thanks in large part to a tremendous save from near the water on No. 18, chipping in from 80 feet out to save par and keep his name among the top four.

Then there was Romero, who looked ready to put the American-heavy field in his dust as he birdied four of the first eight holes, only to come back down to earth with a double bogey into the water on No. 11.

Jason Kokrak is alone in fifth at 6-under, followed by a pair of ast risers on the day, American Tom Gillis and Korea's Charlie Wi tied for sixth at 5-under.

Even through two rounds and even on Saturday through two holes, Gillis ripped off four birdies on his next six holes and finished the day 5-under.

Wi was even better, at least until the very end, with a 7-under 29 on the front nine thanks to birdies on every hole but 4 and 8. The 41-year-old native of Seoul would have made it a five-way tie at the top of the leaderboard, but he finished with a double bogey on No. 18.

In all, 26 players are at least one stroke under par, meaning truly anything can happen on Sunday. Included in the jumble are Ken Duke (2-under), Rickie Fowler (1-under) and Angel Cabrera (1-under).

Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia had his best round of the tournament, a 2-under 69 that saw him move into a tie for 27th at even par.
 
06/30/13, Sunday

Bill Haas saved the best for last at the AT&T National, and the reward was a tournament title and $1.17 million in prize money.

Haas fired a 5-under 66 to pull away from a group of four players knotted atop the leaderboard to start the day, finishing the tournament 12-under for his first victory of the season.

It's the sixth top 10 finish of the year for Haas, who had missed the cut at the US Open two weeks ago.

On Sunday he hit a bogey early on five, then pulled away with a string of three straight birdies on No. 8-10, and two more on 14 and 16.

He won the tournament by three strokes over Roberto Castro, who had been at least tied for the lead on the first three days.

Castro shot a 2-under 69 to take home $702,000. He finished a stroke ahead of the hard-charging D.H. Lee, who made pretty much everyone forget about his flipping the bird at a fan on Saturday by shooting the best round of the tournament, a 7-under 64 that saw him knock in five straight birdies in the front nine.

Back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine kept Lee out of a serious push for the title. He tied for third with Kason Kokrak at 8-under. Stewart Cin was fifth at 7-under and 19-year-old Jordan Spieth took sixth with a 6-under.Spieth was 2-under on the day after struggling to a 3-over 74 on Saturday while initially tied for the lead.

While Haas and Castro performed well, the other two members of the leaderboard quartet from Saturday fell off the map on Sunday.

American James Driscoll shot a 3-over 74 to fall into a tie for eighth. Driscoll did not make a single birdie on Sunday after racking up 13 in the first three rounds.

Argentina's Andres Romero was even worse, knocking a 4-over 75 to drop to a tie for 13th.

Romero hit a double bogey on No. 4, but was back to even through eight before bogeying three straight holes and four of of five.

Masters champion Adam Scott had his worst round of the weekend, a 5-over 76 that dropped him into a tie for 57th. Scott's 4-over on the front nine pretty much sealed his fate.

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