The membership of Congressional Country Club has reportedly voted to bring back Tiger Woods’s PGA Tour event for 2016, 2018 and 2020, a decision that provides some measure of stability for the tournament now known as the Quicken Loans National.
The vote, taken over the past month among Congressional’s roughly 2,000 voting members, concluded at 5 p.m. Sunday. Counting took place until late in the night. The result was first reported by Comcast SportsNet and is the one Woods and his foundation preferred — a return, even on an every-other-year basis, to the course on which the event was originally held.
Congressional President Steve Durante did not reply to messages seeking comment. Officials at the Tiger Woods Foundation declined comment.
Washington’s annual PGA Tour stop still must find a home for 2015, ’17 and ’19, and officials from Woods’s foundation and the tour have been working on finalizing those plans, with Robert Trent Jones Golf Club and TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm two strong contenders. But Congressional’s approval assures Woods of hosting his event at the venue he prefers, the Blue Course in Bethesda that has staged three U.S. Opens.
The 2015 site could be announced as soon as Monday. RTJ, in Gainesville, Va., would draw fans from a different geographic range. It has staged four Presidents Cups, two of which Woods played in, and in an interview last week he said he was aware of the development around that part of Prince William County.
“There was literally nothing out there,” Woods said. “It’s developed a lot since 2000.”
TPC Potomac, which has been overhauled and rebranded since the tour last played there in 2006, rests just across the street from Congressional, so many of the logistics — parking, volunteer staffs — would remain the same. Since the PGA Tour owns the course, the Tiger Woods Foundation — which will pay Congressional $1.275 million per tournament under the new deal — would clear more money to spend on its programs.
Still, the Sunday vote was meaningful for Woods, who badly wanted to remain at Congressional because of its prestige as a major championship venue and the challenge it provides the field. The tournament, previously known as the AT&T National, is annually one of the toughest scoring sites on tour.
“It’s a perfect fit, and we want to stay here,” Woods said last week at an appearance in the District, at which he and the PGA Tour announced a four-year deal with Detroit-based Quicken Loans as the title sponsor, beginning with this June’s tournament.
Woods and his foundation founded the tournament — and pulled it off with just 112 days of lead time — in 2007, bringing AT&T as a title sponsor and landing Congressional as a glamorous host site when it appeared the tradition of professional golf in Washington might come to an end. Congressional later approved one three-year option to host the event from 2012-14 — after it had moved to suburban Philadelphia for two years so that Congressional could prepare for and host the 2011 U.S. Open.
The original contract between Woods’s foundation and the club called for Congressional’s members to vote on another three-year extension that would have covered 2015-17. But when it became clear that proposal had little chance of passing — in part because the date for the 2015 event on the PGA Tour’s preliminary schedule falls in late summer, which Congressional’s members found unpalatable — officials from both Woods’s foundation and Congressional worked to find a compromise.
That compromise was to allow Congressional to host every other year from 2016 through 2020. At a February meeting, the club’s board — which strongly endorsed hosting the event — made its pitch to membership.
Greg McLaughlin, the CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation (who has since announced he is leaving his post for a job with the PGA Tour), used the meeting to praise the club and demonstrate how the tournament has allowed the foundation to make inroads in the Washington community, namely by opening two Tiger Woods Learning Centers in the District. A third center, which hosts after-school programs for disadvantaged kids, has since opened at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico.