The third round of the AT&T National has been pushed back due to the powerful storms that wreaked havoc and caused widespread power outages across the Washington D.C. area Friday night.
PGA Tour and tournament officials are aiming for a two-tee start at 1 p.m., but the course will be closed to spectators and volunteers for safety reasons. Play had been scheduled to start at 7:10 a.m.
It was really a mess out there, said Mark Russell, the PGA Tours vice president of rules and competition, speaking as the sound of chainsaws echoed throughout Congressional Country Club. Ive never seen anything like this. Its like a tornado came through here.
According to Stewart Williams of Telvent DTN, the PGAs senior meteorologist, the course received three-tenths of an inch of rain, but winds from a fast-moving derecho gusted to 70 mph around 10:30 p.m. Friday, downing as many as 40 trees at the Bethesda club, disrupting power and obstructing many roads leading to the entrance.
It was all straight line winds, said Williams, who also warned of the possibility of more severe storms Saturday evening. The heat had a lot to do with. Thats what fueled the momentum to keep it going and build on itself.
Efforts to clear fallen trees, branches and other debris began late Friday night and continued Saturday morning.
Trees fell across the fairways on holes No. 14 and 18, according to Russell. But the course was spared major damage because none of the greens were damaged.
The golf course is going to be fine, Russell said. Inside the ropes is going to be good. The periphery is a mess.
Russell also said there will be a rules meeting at noon.
Were going to take a look and see what all they can get cleaned upand see how were going to play, he said. Powerful removal, were probably will have to use that rule a little more than we usually do. Theres a lot of debris out there.
If the third round begins on time, tournament host Tiger Woods will tee off at 2:40 and leaders Hunter Mahan, Brendon de Jonge and Jimmy Walker will begin at 3:10.
The decision to ban fans and volunteers was made for safety reasons.
Its just too dangerous out here, Russell said. There are a lot of hanging limbs, a lot of debris a lot of places. We just didnt think it would be safe to get a lot of people out here. Its unfortunate, but thats just the way we have to go to protect the public.
Tickets for Saturdays round will be honored on Sunday assuming power can be restored and the spectator areas can be cleared.
Its going to take a long time to clean this up, Russell said.
Asked whether he anticipates allowing fans on the course Sunday, he added, We hope we can do that.