Few watch a tight Congressional

Sang-Moon Bae tees off on the third hole with virtually no one in the gallery thanks to overnight windstorms that downed trees and branches.

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Sang-Moon Bae tees off on the third hole with virtually no one in the gallery thanks to overnight windstorms that downed trees and branches.

BETHESDA, Md. — Saturday at Congressional was not the first time Tiger Woods has played before so few fans.

There were those 6 a.m. practice rounds at the British Open. Or the occasional PGA Tour event where fans were evacuated because of a thunderstorm and hardly anyone returned at twilight when play resumed.

But teeing off in the late afternoon at the AT&T National, on a steamy but sun-filled day on a fabled course in a golf-mad area like Washington?

Woods had the largest crowd of the day, even though it never topped 100. Brendon de Jonge, who had 2-under 69 to take a one-shot lead at 7-under 206, had as many birdies (three) as people in his gallery on a strange, silent day at Congressional.

A violent wind storm overnight that toppled dozens of trees and littered the course with limbs forced tournament officials to keep spectators and all but the essential volunteers away from Congressional. Considering the amount of debris, it was amazing they even played.

"I've played in front of people like this," Woods said. "But not generally for an 18-hole competitive round."

De Jonge was steady in the sweltering conditions for a third straight round in the 60s, which gave him his first 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. One shot behind were Woods (67), Bo Van Pelt (67) and S.Y. Noh (69).

De Jonge, a South African going for his first tour win, made his final birdie on No. 12 with a wedge out of the rough that climbed over a ridge and settled about 12 feet behind the cup. It was worthy of applause, but there was only one person in the gallery to see it: Kandi Mahan, Hunter Mahan's wife.

A few volunteers, tournament staff and club members tagged along after Woods and provided about the only noise of the round. They watched him and Van Pelt get off to a quick start, then match pars on the back nine.

"I told Tiger that was a Bo Van Pelt crowd, so I was used to that," Van Pelt said.

CHAMPIONS: Mark Calcavecchia shot 6-under 64, holing a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to tie for the third-round lead with Joe Daley in the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh, the third of five tour majors.

Calcavecchia, the Montreal Championship winner last week, matched Daley at 12-under 198 at Fox Chapel. Daley had 68. "Capping the day with a 50-footer on the last hole always helps," said Calcavecchia. "It always makes dinner taste a little bit better."

Second-round leader Fred Couples, the winner last year, and Tom Lehman were a stroke back.

LPGA: Veronica Felibert shot 5-under 66 to move to 11-under 131 and stretch her lead to four strokes in the second round of the NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers. The rookie from Venezuela made the field as the second alternate after missing cuts in her previous three events. Mika Miyazato and Inbee Park were tied for second. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (142) and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (143) made the cut. Clearwater's Jennifer Gleason and Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (both 144) just missed.

Few watch a tight Congressional 06/30/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 11:21pm]

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