By John Strege
It is called the Blue Course, presumably in a nod to the color of the language it evokes from a vexed PGA Tour constituency. The word of the day there Sunday was “#$&@?$%$!”
Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., occasionally hosts the U.S. Open, suggesting its tournament course is not likely to warrant a Miss Congeniality award. But that’s the U.S. Open. Why was it showcasing its ugly side in a tournament now known as the Quicken Loans National?
(Getty Images photo)
It almost proved too thorny even for a Rose. Justin Rose survived a 72nd-hole bogey to win the tournament, beating Shawn Stefani on the first hole of a playoff.
“It’s definitely a test,” Rose said Saturday.
What, a calculus test?
Patrick Reed was among those who failed it. Reed took a two-stroke lead into the final round and was threatening to have the last laugh on those who ridiculed him for having declared himself a top-five player in the world. “He has self belief,” Nick Faldo said diplomatically, “the best 15th club in the bag.” Disbelief surely joined his repertoire in the final round, when he imploded spectacularly, shooting a 77 that included three double bogeys and a few impolitic words.
Freddie Jacobson, meanwhile, momentarily misplaced his composure and gouged a chunk of turf from the rough (see video below). He was running hot, despite donning plus-twos that he said were “a little bit cooler in this heat.”
At least Congressional delivered an appropriate winner on a course on which “a U.S. Open broke out,” CBS’ Peter Kostis said. Rose is a U.S. Open champion, who has developed a habit of winning on renowned tracks: Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and now Congressional.
“I think Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open, for sure,” Rose said, referring to Rory McIlroy’s Open win there in 2011, when he played 72 holes in 16 under par. Rose and Stefani each finished at four under par, two of only 10 players to better par in the tournament.
“I was excited to play this golf course this week,” Rose said. “I really enjoy this type of golf and this kind of test. And it tested all of us.”
Even the tournament host, Tiger Woods, who missed the cut in his return to competitive golf though apparently avoided injury. That in itself was an achievement with rough so thick that “if we played it every week you’d see more wrist injuries,” defending champion Bill Haas said.
Only six of the 75 players broke par in the final round and only two scored in the 60s, but everyone, ultimately, was a victim of Congressional mettle.