In March, Congressional Country Club’s membership voted to host the Quicken Loans National every other year through 2020 , giving Tiger Woods’s tournament some secure footing in the Washington area. Woods’s foundation, which both runs and benefits from the PGA Tour stop, subsequently announced it would host the 2015 event at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County.
There will be one other change: the date, at least the next two years. Though the PGA Tour has not announced its 2014-15 schedule, a quirk in the calendar will move the Quicken Loans National off its traditional late-June or early-July date to July 30-Aug. 2, according to sources with knowledge of the process.
The reason: The U.S. Open runs June 18-21, and the British Open July 16-19, leaving room for just two tournaments in between. The Washington event will thus be bumped to later on the schedule.
For now, that looks like a one-time change. But in 2016, when the tournament returns to Congressional, there will likely be another change, this one to May. The PGA Tour schedule in 2016 is in turmoil because of golf’s return to the Olympics — which will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro — and the most likely landing spot for the Quicken Loans National is the week leading up to Memorial Day.
One other piece of business remains: finding a site for 2017 and ’19, the off years for Congressional. Officials for the Tiger Woods Foundation will evaluate their experience at RTJ next year, as will officials from that club. But even if that goes well, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, which is located in Potomac next to Congressional in Bethesda, remains a strong contender.
Woods has visited the course, which has been completely overhauled since it last hosted a PGA Tour event in 2006. It hosted the Senior Players Championship in 2010, and afterward Mark O’Meara, long a Woods friend, told Woods he would like it.
“He was right,” Woods said in an interview this spring. “They’ve made some great changes there, made it into a really tough challenge, and obviously they can host a major event on the senior tour. We could make it tough for the guys.”
On Friday, Jordan Spieth sprayed the ball all over Congressional and still somehow broke par. Saturday, he played more conventionally, hitting nine of 14 fairways, and shot 69 to get himself back to even par for the tournament.
But the focus in Sunday’s final round won’t necessarily be his result here. It will be preparation for the British Open in three weeks, a long view for a 20-year-old.
“That was the big goal this year: How can we peak for the majors?” Spieth said. “Sometimes that’s going to come with a work-in-progress a few weeks leading up to it.”
Peter Hanson made a hole-in-one at the 222-yard par-3 second hole Saturday, the first ace at the hole in the six years Congressional has hosted this event. Hanson used a 4-iron for his first ace on the PGA Tour, running it up to the front pin placement and clanking it in off the flagstick.
“It’s always kind of a weird feeling to see the ball disappear,” Hanson said.
There was one wrinkle: Quicken Loans, in its first year as the tournament’s title sponsor, is awarding a year’s worth of mortgage payments to one fan for any ace on the PGA Tour this year. The lucky person Saturday: Arline Deacon of Fayetteville, Ga.
One additional wrinkle: For any ace at the par-3 10th at Congressional this week, Quicken Loans will award one fan $1 million. . . .
Woods, who missed the cut by four shots on Friday, won’t return Sunday evening to present the trophy to the winner, as he did last year when he was hurt but flew in to hand Bill Haas the hardware. Tournament director Mike Antolini said he and other members of the Tiger Woods Foundation discouraged Woods from flying back from his home in Jupiter, Fla.
“It was an amazing week having Tiger here, back into competitive golf,” Antolini said. “We thought it was more important that he go home, stay home and rest vs. coming back.”
Woods has actually handed the trophy out just twice: last year to Haas, and in 2007, when he played the final round and presented it to K.J. Choi following the inaugural event. Woods joked about handing himself the trophy after his two victories here — in 2009 and ’12.