Van Pelt claims Congressional lead

Bo van Pelt leads the AT&T National by one shot after carding a first round 67 at a tough Congressional course on Thursday.

American Bo van Pelt leads the AT&T National by one shot from Vijay Singh, Brendon de Jonge and Jimmy Walker, after carding a first round four-under-par 67 at a tough Congressional course.

In conditions far more testing than when US Open were held there last year, when Rory McIlroy recorded a score of 16-under 268 to hand him an eight-shot victory, only seven players were able to shoot below 70 on Thursday.

“I think everybody knows the golf course last year just wasn’t quite ready to be set up the way they wanted it to be set up, and it’s unfortunate,” the 37-year-old Van Pelt said.

“I know they spent a lot of time and money to get it ready, and some things are out of your control. I said it last year – they needed one more year, and basically you could have a U.S. Open here this week if you wanted it.

“That’s the way it’s set up,” he concluded.

Pat Perez, Jason Day and Billy Hurley III carded two-under-par 69s, while former world number one Tiger Woods slumped to a one-over 72.

Woods, a 14-time Major champion, didn’t compete at the US Open in 2011, but won the AT&T National in 2009, the last time it was held at Congressional.

“It’s certainly, I think, a little retribution for what happened last year [at the US Open]. Don’t be mad at me. I didn’t play,” Woods commented when asked if conditions were difficult during the first round.

A large group of players shot one-under-par 70s during the first round, including Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, and Hunter Mahan.

Four players failed to break 80 on Thursday, the same amount as at the US Open last year, but then two of those players were amateurs while only PGA Tour professionals take part in the AT&T National.