Five things I'm looking for at the AT&T National (and elsewhere) this week:
1. Tiger's out, but the show goes on at his event
Is it really a party if the host is a no-show? Tiger Woods, this week’s AT&T National tournament host and defending champion, is sitting out this week to rest an injured left elbow in order to gear up for the British Open next month. On his website, Woods said, "It's especially difficult not defending at my own tournament. It's going to be a great event, and I look forward to being there to provide my support." The tournament field took another blow when U.S. Open champ Justin Rose pulled out early this week citing fatigue. No Rory, Phil or Bubba either. Adam Scott and Jason Day, the stage is all yours.
2. Speaking of the Aussies, will Day finally break through for a victory?
We’re accustomed to seeing the 25-year-old on the front page of leaderboards, but could this be the week that Day makes it to the winner’s circle for only the second time in his career? Day has four top-10s this season and is the only player to finish in the top five in both majors this season (3rd at the Masters and T2 at the U.S. Open). In four starts at the AT&T, Day has two top-10s. “As long as I keep knocking on the door, I think I'll win a major soon,” the Aussie said after his final round at Merion. He can build some momentum towards Muirfield this week.
3. Will weather wreck Congressional once again?
Rain has been a local qualifier for almost every tournament so far in this storm-filled PGA Tour season. As bad as some of the wash-outs have been, nothing compares to last year’s third round of the AT&T. Spectators weren’t allowed on the course Saturday because a derecho (those who were at Merion will recognize the term for this fast-moving storm) swept through the area Friday night and uprooted several trees, including a 70-footer on the 14th fairway. The day was dubbed “Silent Saturday.” The current forecast for Thursday and Friday’s rounds? Sixty percent chance of rain with thunderstorms. Hopefully the rain will miss the cut this weekend, but for now it seems unlikly.
4. Park eyes third leg of Grand Slam
There isn’t a golfer having a better 2013 than Inbee Park. The 24-year-old South Korean has five wins this year including two majors, the Kraft Nabisco and the LPGA Championship, heading into the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack in Long Island, NY. Unfortunately for the LPGA, and for Park, this is the first year the Evian Championship has been classified as the tour’s fifth major, meaning Park's run at a Grand Slam has gone from improbable to nearly impossible. Park, currently the top-ranked player on the LPGA, became the youngest U.S. Women’s Open champ in 2008 when she won by four strokes at age 19.
5. Monty returns
Colin Montgomerie will make his Champions Tour debut at this week’s Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh. Monty turned 50 last Sunday to become eligible for the Tour, and he'll look for his first professional victory since the 2007 European Open. The newly-enshrined World Golf Hall of Famer has 31 wins in Europe but was never able to win on the PGA Tour. “Right now I'm playing against guys that are well under half my age,” Montgomerie said. “I've got children older than them, and it doesn't seem fair. So at least when I get to America on Monday into Pittsburgh that I feel that I'm on more of a level playing field.”
Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland
Purse: $6.5 million (Winner: $1.170 million)
TV Times (All times Eastern):
Thursday: 3-6 p.m, Golf Channel
Friday: 3-6 p.m., Golf Channel
Saturday: 1-2:30 p.m., Golf Channel
Saturday: 3-6 p.m., CBS
Sunday: 1-2:30 p.m., Golf Channel
Sunday: 3-6:30 p.m., CBS
Thursday’s Marquee Groups
7:27 a.m.: Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera
12:27 p.m.: Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Jason Day
12:39 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, K.J. Choi