Beau Hossler’s last experience at Congressional Country Club is well-documented: 76 in the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open, 77 in the second round, and a quick ticket home to resume a summer of amateur golf. He was, after all, 16.
Thursday, Hossler — hardened by that Open appearance, plus a more pleasant one earlier this month at the Olympic Club — returned to Bethesda, to a setup on the Blue Course that he considered more difficult. He opened the AT&T National with an even-par 71, an admirable showing in his PGA Tour debut considering he had three three-putts.
“It’s a little more low-key, obviously, because there’s less people — not people flying from around the country and world to see the tournament, less grandstands,” Hossler said. “But the course is set up . . . equally difficult, I think, or pretty close.”
Hossler, who started at the 10th tee, made three birdies in his first nine holes to offset three bogeys, and had his round to 1 under when he made a 16-foot birdie putt at the third. But he closed with a three-putt bogey to fall back to even.
“I feel like I belong,” Hossler said. “Obviously, my game needs to get better before I’m out here all the time, but I feel pretty comfortable out here. Feels like I can make the adjustment from junior to amateur to professional golf.”
Hossler, now 17 and from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., fared a bit better than the two other youngsters in the field. Jordan Spieth, the 18-year-old amateur from Dallas who will eventually team with Hossler at the University of Texas, shot 75. Patrick Cantlay, the 20-year-old former UCLA student who turned pro immediately after the U.S. Open, managed a 72.
Australian star Adam Scott, one of the tournament’s bigger names, very nearly missed the start of the event. His tee time: 8:02 a.m. When he woke up: 7:20. His hotel’s location: Georgetown.
“Luckily,” Scott said jokingly, “I had ironed my clothes the night before.”
He was fortunate. After racing up River Rd. and arriving at 7:55 a.m., he got to the 10th tee — where his round was due to start — and found there was a bit of a delay.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Scott said. He did, but shot a 4-over 75.. . .
Vijay Singh, a 34-time winner on the PGA Tour who has scarcely been heard from in two years, switched putters this week, not an unusual move for a 49-year-old who ranks 181st on tour in total putting.
“My theory was if I get it close enough, I don’t need to putt,” he said. “It doesn’t work after a while.”
Playing in the morning, Singh had eight one-putt greens and got himself at 4 under when he birdied the 10th, but three straight bogeys on holes 11-13 brought him back.