No Tiger Woods.
No Phil Mickelson.
No Rory McIlroy.
No Justin Rose, who two weeks ago won the U.S. Open.
Welcome to this year’s AT&T National, which began today at storied Congressional Country Club in Bethesda.
Getting goose bumps yet?
To be sure, a sprinkling of stars are on hand for our backyard tournament, including Masters champion Adam Scott, who’s ranked fourth in the world, but certainly not of the caliber that that often has been in the field for the event hosted by none other than Woods.
The latter is out with a strained left elbow. McIlroy is playing in his native Ireland. Rose opted out late for reasons that can be boiled down to burnout after his U.S. Open win. Mickelson never intended on being here.
Woods says he plans to be a presence at the tournament that benefits his Tiger Woods Foundation but that’s not the same as Woods – ranked No. 1 in the world and the defending chamption – methodically and stoically striding down the fairways.
“He such a presence,” Bo Van Pelt told reporters Wednesday. “Whenever he’s in an event, you know he’s there (because of) the crowd size and the roars that you hear when he’s playing well.”
Congressional agreed several years ago to provide its venue because it was Tiger’s tourney and it presumably would draw a majority of the best players in the world.
And now? Here’s Thomas Boswell, writing in the Washington Post:
“His charisma is the magnet that induces a U.S. Open-worthy club to inconvenience itself to hold a PGA Tour event. Members will notice that. . .Rose played in Hartford last week yet withdrew from the AT&T, citing post-victory exhaustion. If Woods had as much pull with his peers as Jack or Arnie. . .perhaps Rose would’ve punted Hartford to avoid being too tuckered out to come to D.C.”
As it is, Scott will headline a field that’s not unlike many other much lower-profile tournaments.
Were it not for the looming British Open, Woods may well have opted to tough it out here this weekend but is steadfast that he’s only doing what the doctors have advised him to do.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing not to play in my own event,” Woods told reporters.
But he had to do what he insists he had to do. And ultimately, Congressional will do what it has to do.
Stay tuned. And enjoy the golf.