Another Friday storm for AT&T National -- Gazette.Net



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Lately, Fridays have not been welcoming to the AT&T National golf tournament.

Last year, a derecho — a powerful windstorm capable of doing as much damage as an F-1 tornado — ripped through Congressional Country Club on Friday night after golfers had completed the second round. The storm felled about 40 trees at the Bethesda course.

Following a delay, players completed the third round the next day, but spectators were not allowed to watch in person due to the damage and the conditions. That caused the weeklong attendance to fall to a five-year low.

This time, on Friday, second-round play at the AT&T National was suspended at 2:44 p.m. due to dark clouds that rolled in with the sound of thunder.

Some players had completed their rounds by then, but other golfers still playing entered numerous evacuation vans parked around the course in the event of inclement weather or another emergency.

Play was slated to resume at 5:45 p.m., but players were brought back in around 5:30 p.m. as more storms developed.

An hour before the round was suspended, Jody Dodson of Frisco, Tx., commented that she welcomed the clouds for the relief they brought from the heat. She came to visit her sister in Fairfax, Va., and going to this tournament was on their agenda.

“It’s such a beautiful country club and golf course,” said Dodson, who was making her first AT&T National, though she had attended some PGA tournaments in the Dallas area.

Some fans said they saw a few more security personnel than last year, but it was understandable with the Boston Marathon bombing occurring in April, they said. “It’s not really that noticeable,” said Bill Grossmiller, a local resident who attended the AT&T in previous years.

Officers patrolled the grounds, and squad cars were visible around the course entrances.

Former Georgia Tech All-American Roberto Castro, who took a two-stroke lead on Thursday, was tied for the lead on Friday with 19-year-old University of Texas All-American Jordan Spieth at 7-under-par.

Spieth, who just turned pro last year and is seeking his first tournament win, shot a 5-under-par on Friday to catch Castro, 28, who has six professional victories after turning pro in 2007.

“I was looking for improving on my putting today,” Spieth said after Friday’s round. “I gave myself a lot of chances and hit great putts that didn’t quite fall [on the back nine holes], but I had them fall on the front nine. So all in all, it evened out.... I’m excited for what the weekend’s going to bring.”

The greens seemed to be playing a little quicker early Friday, Castro said. “As the humidity gets up in the afternoon, they slow down,” he said.

kshay@gazette.net