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Spectators return to a battered Congressional

Mugshot

A downed tree provided the backdrop for the fifth fairway at Congressional Country Club during the final round of the AT&T National. Volunteers and spectators were kept away for Saturday’s third round because of damage to the course from heavy storms in the region Friday night. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

Spectators arriving at Congressional Country Club on Sunday were greeted by tennis court fences bent in from the hurricane force winds Friday night. This would be the first time fans were able to visit Congressional, since Friday’s second round.

“I thought it was a good decision by the club officials because it appeared [there was] a lot of damage,” said Skip Brown of Prince William County, Va. “The last thing you want to have is a safety issue for volunteers and spectators.”

Safety was the ultimate concern.

Club and tournament officials worked hard over the past two days and nights to get the course in shape. Their goal was to make it playable Saturday and safe for spectators Sunday.

“We wanted to focus on cleaning all of the debris outside the ropes,” said Greg McLaughlin, the tournament director. “We had to get the hospitality tent in shape,” before they would allow fans back in.

Working late into the night and continuing early in the morning, along with tree removal services coming in, the course was back in good enough condition to play the final round and give the golfers a crowd to play in front of.

With Saturday’s round being played in front of media and family members only, fans could only watch on television. Following the storm Friday night, hundreds of thousands still were without power Saturday and potential spectators had to find somewhere to watch the tournament — or find something different to do.

“[My husband and I] tried to get out and go someplace air-conditioned, so we went to the movies and out to eat,” said Ellicott City, Md. resident Diane Loso.

She wasn’t the only one trying go somewhere cooler.

Scott Chatterton of North Bethesda was lucky enough to live close to family when he lost power.

“We went to my in-laws up in Western Maryland,” said Chatterton. “We just barbecued and stayed at their house.”

Spectators could see the storm’s aftermath simply by beginning to walk the daunting Blue Course. Immediately upon starting to navigate the first hole, fans were met with debris and fallen trees, which they had to navigate to reach the green.

Piles of chopped wood and debris riddled the back nine as well. A large tree that had obstructed the fairway on 14 was now cut and stacked in piles off to the side; the tree that was on 18 Saturday was nowhere to be found.

Fans were very happy with how the course looked for Sunday.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said James Hill of Bethesda. “They did a great job.”

Arlington resident Cass Smith added: “They did phenomenally well.”

Tickets for Saturday’s round were honored Sunday. A refund will be offered to those who had tickets for both weekend rounds.

Chip shots

• Chez Reavie recorded the only hole in one when his tee shot on 13 found the cup.

• Charley Hoffman holed out from the fairway on 16 to earn his second eagle of the tournament.

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