The PGA Tour moves on to the AT&T National at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. This is the fifth time that Congressional has hosted this event but just the second time since renovations took place prior to the 2011 U.S. Open.
Before the renovations, Congressional was a relatively easy track but that is not the case after the USGA took over. Out of 49 venues last season, Congressional ranked as the third toughest course, and toughest of non-Majors, at +2.036 over par.
It was also the hardest Par-71 course on tour, just ahead of Riviera Country Club and Harbour Town Golf Links. All facets of the game are difficult as putting, scrambling, greens hit and driving accuracy all ranked 14th or lower.
Only 14 players finished below par last year, led by Tiger Woods, who won by two shots over Bo Van Pelt and three shots over Adam Scott. A strained elbow will keep Tiger from defending his title and that typically brings a lot more of the field back into the mix.
Past history is limited with the layout and surface of the greens changing, therefore it is more favorable to look at current form as the biggest factor heading into this week. A look into last year's finish also helps.
The field is thinned out somewhat with the Irish Open highlighting the European Tour this week. Overall, there are just two players ranked within the OWGR Top 10, Adam Scott and Brandt Snedeker, 14 of the Top 30 and 24 of the Top 50. This after Justin Rose withdrew prior to the week. Eleven winners from 2013 are teeing it up, including last week's winner Ken Duke, as are two past champions of this event, Nick Watney and K.J. Choi.
With Woods out of the picture this week, Adam Scott (+1,200) is the slight favorite. He played well here last year with a solo third but he did miss the cut at the 2011 U.S. Open, although that was a much more difficult setup altogether. He has not played much since his win at the Masters and his best finish is a T13 at the Memorial. He should be plenty rested and ready to win again.
Jason Day (+1,500) is having an excellent season. He has yet to miss a cut in 12 medal play starts with four Top 10s and a pair of Top 3s. He placed solo second at the U.S. Open here two years ago behind Rory McIlroy and finished T8 at Congressional last year, five shots behind Woods.
Bo Van Pelt (+3,000) is too good to have won only once on tour (he won the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship). He’s not having a great season in 2013, with just one Top 10 but he has five other Top 25 finishes and he has missed only three cuts in 16 starts. As mentioned, he was the runner-up to Woods last year and he was a solid T14 at the 2011 U.S. Open, so he certainly likes it here.
This is some excellent value for Ryan Palmer (+4,000). He did miss the cut at the U.S. Open in his last start but prior to that, he posted two Top 5s in his previous four starts and has the game to compete. He finished T21 at the 2011 U.S. Open and then T15 at the AT&T last year which included two rounds of 67 and 69.
We will go with John Huh (+5,000) for the long-shot pick this week. He has been pretty average with only one Top 10 this year - a T8 at the Byron Nelson which has similar bentgrass greens. He likes the big stage and finished T11 at the Masters (also similar greens) and T17 at the U.S. Open. He played at Congressional last year and was solid with a T17 highlighted by a Saturday 67.
Recommended tournament win five pack at the AT&T National (all for one unit)
Adam Scott (+1,200)
Jason Day (+1,500)
Bo Van Pelt (+3,000)
Ryan Palmer (+4,000)
John Huh (+5,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 23 events: -25.4 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -8 Units
RBC Heritage +27 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans -5 Units
The Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units