The inaugural AT&T National golf tournament hosted by Tiger Woods got under way Thursday outside Washington in Bethesda, Maryland. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer reports from Congressional Country Club that a crowded leader board does not include the world's top ranked player.
Five golfers share the lead at four-under-par 66 after the first round - world number three Jim Furyk, his fellow-American Joe Ogilvie, sixth ranked Vijay Singh of Fiji, Australian Stuart Appleby and South Koeran K.J. Choi.
Furyk said the rain that came early in his round softened the course and helped him get off to a good start.
"I probably only missed a fairway or two. I kept the ball in front of me," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities with irons, and I was able to hit a few good iron shots and knock in some putts and really played a solid round of golf."
There are seven golfers tied for second place at three-under par 67, only one shot off the lead. They include 51-year-old American Fred Funk.
World number one Tiger Woods, the host of this event, shot a three over par 73 and is tied for 77th place.
This is an invitational tournament with only 120 golfers, compared to most PGA Tour events that have fields of 156. And Tiger will likely need a better round Friday to make the halfway cut which will include the top 70 golfers, plus ties.
This new tournament is being played at Congressional Country Club, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Washington. It hosted the U.S. Open in 1997 and will host it again in 2011. It's a course most of the golfers love, and co-leader Joe Ogilvie said it was an easy decision to come play in this event.
"When Tiger hosts a tournament, if becomes pretty much a no-brainer for anyone - certainly anyone that's American," he said. "The Europeans have a big tournament over there this week [The Smurfit Kappa European Open at the K Club in Kildare, Ireland]. But, you know, Tiger's a pretty powerful guy."
But Tiger Woods is not the only top golfer who is in danger of missing the cut. So is his fellow-American and world number-two Phil Mickelson, who shot a four over par 74. He's tied for 93rd place.