Tiger stalks De Jonge into Maryland final round
BETHESDA, Maryland, July 1 — Zimbabwe’s Brendan de Jonge climbed into the lead but Tiger Woods is lurking just a shot behind after the third round of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club at a storm-hit Bethesda yesterday.
Seeking a maiden PGA Tour win, De Jonge carded a two-under par 69 to move to seven-under 206 for the tournament, a stroke clear of Americans Bo Van Pelt (67) and Woods (67), and Korean prospect Noh Seung-yul (69).
Massive storms in the area wreaked havoc overnight, forcing organisers to delay the start of play, and prohibit spectators and volunteers from attending due to fallen trees and dangerous conditions around the course.
Playing without huge galleries in competition for the first time in decades, former world number one Woods was bogey-free, picking up his four birdies in the opening 10 holes, including a majestic chip-in on the sixth.
Similar to the wonder shot on the 16th hole in the final round of his recent Memorial Tournament victory, Woods missed the green long but conjured up a touch of brilliance from the rough to make birdie and maintain his momentum.
Woods, who won the event in 2009, is looking to move into sole possession of second place on the PGA Tour winners’ list, on which he is currently level with Jack Nicklaus on 73 victories and chasing down Sam Snead’s 82.
However, he has come from behind after 54 holes in just 23 of those triumphs.
“It was a day in which I started off five back, and I needed to make a run. Whether we have thousands of people or we have a small handful of people out there, it doesn’t change the execution of the shot,” Woods told reporters.
“The shot needs to be placed correctly in the fairway and on the correct side and then fired to the correct spot on the green and then holed. That doesn’t change anything.
“What does change is when I hole a shot like I did on six, it’s not going to be as loud today as it normally is. But that’s just the way it is.
“I played myself into good shape for tomorrow.”
De Jonge quietly went about his business in the final group but admitted to feeling odd playing in relative silence.
“It was actually really strange out there and took a little while to get used to,” he said.
“It’s nice to have people out there and get the buzz and kind of feed off adrenaline.
“Obviously we didn’t have that today. But in saying that, I’m very happy with my round and position going into tomorrow.”
The third round was not such smooth sailing for overnight leader Hunter Mahan, who fired a two-over 73 to drop back into a share of fifth place on 208.
Despite another storm warning forecast for last night, officials are hopeful the course can be reopened to the public today. — Reuters