Tuesday, July 3, 2 p.m. ET

Tiger Woods Golf Tournament

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Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 3, 2007; 2:00 PM

Post golf writer Leonard Shapiro will be online Tuesday, July 3 at 2 p.m. ET to preview the inaugural AT&T National, hosted by Tiger Woods this week at Congressional Country Club.

A transcript follows.

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Washington, D.C.: Watching Tiger at Oakmont, he is as chiseled as Superman. Tiger certainly didn't look like this a few years ago. I know that no one wants to hear the term "HGH" in connection with Tiger, but come on, how can you not at least consider it. Just do a Google image search on Tiger.

Leonard Shapiro:

Good afternoon everyone. Just got finished with Tiger's news conference and I'm ready to go.

As for Tiger and his strong safety look, I promise you that comes from hours in the gym and not HGH, steroids, whatever. This is body by pumping iron from a guy who did it the hard way, not the easy way.

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Churchville, Va.: I'm happy to see plans for a permanent PGA tournament in Washington, D.C. Have Congressional Country Club members voted to host the tournament well into the future?

Leonard Shapiro: Congressional has agreed to do it again in 2008 and then re-assess. Tiger wants it at Congressional in perpetuity, I suspect in 2009 when the U.S. Amateur is here, and 2011, when the U.S. Open is here, it won't happen. Look for Avenel or Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in those years, but Congressional will be a Tiger target every year.

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Vienna, Va.: For someone who's never been to Congressional, and only to one PGA tournament before, what suggestions do you have for watching? I plan to go on Thursday.

Leonard Shapiro:

If you walk and want to follow a group, I'd stay away from Tiger unless you're 6-6 or taller. He'll be mobbed, and so will Mickelson. The neatest hole on the course is 18, but there are plenty of beautiful places all around the golf course to get a good view of several holes.

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Washington, D.C.: I purchased a ticket for this weekend, but I'm not sure if it would be best to go on Saturday or Sunday. Which day do you think would be best?

Leonard Shapiro:

Why not Sunday. That's when we'll have a winner. Just be prepared to fight the crowds, but that will be every day anyway.

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Washington, D.C.: While the rough at Congressional is not US Open length, it is THICK - 4 to 4 1/2 inches as of yesterday. The course played as a par 70 for the 1997 Open and 71 for the 2005 Booz. Do you expect Congressional to play more like the 1997 US Open or the 2005 Booz? Also, where do you expect scores by the end of the weekend, single digits or double digits below par?

Thanks

Leonard Shapiro:

The course is a little softer than the '97 Open, so balls won't run out on the fairway and greens should be slower and hold more shots. The '95 Booz-allen probably would be closer in terms of conditionstions than the last Open here.

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Anonymous: A month or so ago, there was a big deal made in the press that Wimbledon was finally going to pay the men's and women's champions the same amount. Do you think the USGA will ever follow suit? For example, Angel Cabrera earned $1,260,000 for winning the US Open, whereas Cristie Kerr won $560,000 for winning the Women's US Open. The both played 72 holes, whereas it was always the argument that women only played best of 3 sets, versus men who play best of 5.

Any thoughts?

Leonard Shapiro: Sadly, no. The USGA says it breaks even and even loses money on the women's open, and that's the reason it will not be equal in the near future. I do think the women should be equal, but I don't make the decision.

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Alexandria, Va.: I have my tournament pass and I'm really excited about going to the tournament, and seeing Tiger and Phil and the other big stars that didn't usually come when the old tournament was at Avanel. I have a few questions:

At this point, from seeing practice, do you think Tiger and Phil will play well and maybe in contention?

If I go out to Congressional on Wednesday, with the Pro-Am starting at 6:30 a.m., how late in the day will there be something to watch?

Leonard Shapiro:

I'd say Tiger will have the better shot at winning because Phil is coming off a wrist injury and hasn't played since he missed the cut in the US Open. He's rusty, and maybe not 100 percent either. As for when to show on Wednesday. Tiger plays at 6:30 a.m., so get here early if you want to see him. But tee times go all morning and into the early afternoon, so there will be plenty of golf.

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Washington, D.C.: When will Tiger be playing his practice round?

Leonard Shapiro: He played a practice round Tuesday morning and looked very sharp. He tees off in the pro-am at 6:30 a.m.

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Olympia, Wash.: What is so important about Congressional C.C. to Tiger?

Leonard Shapiro:

It's been the site for two U.S. Opens and is considered one of America's finest golf courses. There's nothing quite like it in the area, and because it has two courses, there's plenty of space to put corporate tents etc., etc., that go with a big-time event. He loves the course, and it's the perfect spot.

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Chicago: What are the keys to success at Congressional? What type of game succeeds...length, second-shot, ball striking, putting, etc. Tell us more about the golf course...greens (size, slope), fairways (width, firm), Rough (thickness), etc.

Are you providing any selections, analysis?

Leonard Shapiro: At the U.S. Open, the key was to keep the ball in the fairway and out of the five-inch rough. That won't change, even though the rough is a little shorter, but with the same thick texture that caused many players problems ten years ago. From the tips, the slope is 142, as tough as it gets.

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Boston: I played Congressional a few years back and standing in the fairway on 17 you got the same feeling Lehman must have had looking down at the thin strip of green surrounded by water. Did he ever say what went wrong technically on that shot? Was he trying to take it out right with a draw and just overcook it or was he trying to hit a cut shot and came over the top? I hit short and then made a decent up and down for par (and then chunked two balls in the water on 18...).

Leonard Shapiro:

All he's ever said was that he mis-hit the shot, with not much other detail. Typical of most PGA Tour pros.

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Washington, D.C.: What criteria was used to invite the 120 golfers that will play in the AT&T National? For those PGA tour pros that did not get an invite, what sort of things are they doing this week?

Leonard Shapiro:

The tournament is an invitational, and without getting too technical, entry is based on standing on the money list, world rankings and several sponsor's exemptions that are up to the tournament.

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Port Angeles, Wash.: Why the Congressional Country Club? It's not a club just ANYBODY can play or perhaps even visit.

Leonard Shapiro:

Why Congressional? No. 1 it does not discriminate on the basis of race or gender, a key factor for any PGA Tour event. No. 2, it's the best venue in the area, a major championship golf course that's hosted two us opens, a PGA Championship and a bu nch of regular tour events. The players love the old style courses, and this clearly fits that category, as well. It is a private club, but most of the places these guys play are private.

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Leesburg, Va.: Any idea why Sergio is not playing at Congressional considering he won here two years ago? This would be a good chance for him to beat Tiger head-to-head.

Leonard Shapiro:

Because this tournament got on the schedule so late (in February), many players already had set their schedules. Before the British Open, Sergio usually goes back to Europe to play in a few warm-up events, and I'm assuming this date just conflicted with his schedule.

Apologies, but I've got to cut this short and start reporting on my story for Thursday's paper. Thanks for the chat.

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