Secretary of State Adds Golf to Her Sports Bag

After lunch with Tiger Woods, Condoleezza Rice followed Phil Mickelson's group for a couple of holes.
After lunch with Tiger Woods, Condoleezza Rice followed Phil Mickelson's group for a couple of holes. "It's a great way to spend the afternoon," she said. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)
By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 7, 2007

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's love of football is well known. She has said she wouldn't mind becoming NFL commissioner one day. Turns out, she's quite a golf fan, too. Rice took up golf two years ago and has been taking lessons at the course on Andrews Air Force Base, where she recently shot an 89.

"I'm a really avid sports fan," Rice said. "I love anything with a score at the end."

Rice indulged her new passion by spending yesterday afternoon at the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club. She began with lunch in the clubhouse with Tiger Woods. The former Stanford professor and former Stanford student hadn't seen each other since a Stanford-Duke basketball game on Dec. 21, 2000, when, Rice made sure to point out, the Cardinal knocked off the No. 1 Blue Devils.

"It was great to see Tiger Woods," Rice said. "I wanted to come out for this tournament. It's a very special tournament. It's a great way to spend the afternoon."

After lunch, Rice went onto the course to watch with members of the military. She followed Phil Mickelson's group for a couple of holes, then caught up with him again on the 18th green. She applauded enthusiastically when Brad Faxon's long putt nearly went in, then cringed when Adam Scott sent his chip over the green and into the water.

Faxon and Mickelson were at the White House on Wednesday with Rice to watch the fireworks. At the scoring tent, Faxon gave Rice a hug.

"Secretary Rice, it's nice to see you again," said Mickelson, who also hugged the secretary of state. "Enjoyed you coming out today."

Weather -- or Not

When there's a golf tournament in town, it's good to know what the weather is going to do. Until 12 years ago, the PGA Tour relied primarily on local weather offices and TV stations for its weather reports. Now it has its own on-site weatherman in charge of keeping weather delays to a minimum.

"We've cut the downtime in half," said Stewart Williams, a PGA Tour meteorologist.

Williams uses Doppler radar and the national lightning detection network to predict storms, but his most important device is an electric field mill, which measures static electricity buildup in the atmosphere. He got a strong reading on Thursday -- an indication of a lightning strike -- which was the reason for the 14-minute delay.

Williams, who has been doing weather for the PGA Tour for 14 years, does more than just predict storms. He also helps the rules officials set up the course. He gives them the wind conditions, which lets them know where to set the tees, and how much rain there will be, so they know where to place the pins on the greens. If the day is going to be wet, they will put the pins in areas that don't puddle.

The rules officials shouldn't have to worry about rain this weekend, according to Williams.

"It will be hot but a little less humidity," Williams said. "We're going to have a high sitting over us so that's going to keep us calm."

Hulbert Carries for Love

Davis Love III has used a variety of caddies this season. This week, he has an old friend on his bag, three-time PGA Tour winner Mike Hulbert.

"He just called me up," said Hulbert, who also caddied for Love at the FBR Open in January and will carry his bag at the British Open later this month.

"We're always in touch with each other. He needed somebody this week. I was more than happy to do it."

Carrying a bag is different than playing in these events, but it does have its advantages.

"I can relax a bit more," Hulbert said. "You try to make sure he's doing the same."

Parking Carousel

Fans planning on coming to the course today should arrive early. Yesterday, with Tiger Woods teeing off at 8:25 a.m., the close-in parking lots were full by 9:30 a.m., forcing fans to head to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds lots. Some fans needed a couple of hours to make it from the lots to the course. For those not interested in parking so far away, some resourceful neighbors of Congressional Country Club are offering parking at their homes. The house at Bradley Boulevard and River Road is reportedly charging $50 per car.

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