Bo Van Pelt kept bogeys off his card and picked up an extra shot when his wedge spun back into the hole for an eagle. It's a formula that would work well at a U.S. Open, which is what Congressional felt like Thursday in the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md.
On a day when the temperature was in the 90s and only seven players managed a score in the 60s, Van Pelt opened with a 4-under 67 to grab a one-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Brendon De Jonge and Jimmy Walker, who bogeyed his final hole.
Tiger Woods was never under par in the afternoon and opened with a 1-over 72.
So this is what the U.S. Open was supposed to look like.
The venerable Blue Course took a beating last year in the so-called toughest test in golf when unfavorable weather conditions in the weeks leading up to the U.S. Open and overnight rain during the championship made Congressional a pushover. Rory McIlroy had a record score of 16-under 268 for an eight-shot victory.
The AT&T National was more of a grind.
"It's certainly, I think, a little retribution for what happened last year," Woods said. "Don't be mad at me. I didn't play."
Woods missed the U.S. Open last year while recovering from injuries to his left leg. He won at Congressional in 2009 the last time the AT&T National was played here, and he won at 13-under 267. That was nothing like the course he faced Thursday.
Billy Hurley III, who went to the Naval Academy and spent five
"I think everybody knows the golf course last year just wasn't quite ready to be set up the way they wanted it to be set up, and it's unfortunate," Van Pelt said. "I know they spent a lot of time and money to get it ready, and some things are out of your control. I said it last year -- they needed one more year, and basically you could have a U.S. Open here this week if you wanted it.
"That's the way it's set up."
The sunshine and heat figure to make it tougher over the next few days, especially on the weekend.
Champions Tour: Bruce Vaughan shot a 6-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk in the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh, the third of five Champions Tour majors.
Vaughan, 55, matched the lowest round of his career and tied the first-round record in the event. He won the 2008 Senior British Open for his lone Champions Tour title.
Fred Couples, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., was two strokes back at Fox Chapel along with Tom Lehman, Michael Allen and Joe Daley.
Greg Norman opened with a 67 in his first Champions Tour event since 2009.
European Tour: France's Gregory Bourdy and India's Jeev Milkha Singh shot 7-under 65 to share the first-round lead in the first round of the Irish Open, while home favorite Rory McIlroy was five strokes back after a sloppy finish at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
McIlroy bogeyed two of his last three holes for a 70 on the Dunluce Links. Fellow Northern Irish stars Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke shot 71.