A top-flight PGA Tour field, including this year's top two money winners, Andy Bean and Greg Norman, is expected for Congressional Country Club's last hurrah at the end of this month.
The River Road golf course will stage its final Kemper Open May 29-June 1 before the tournament takes a permanent home, starting next spring, at the new Tournament Players Club at Avenel, a stadium course one mile northwest of Congressional in Potomac.
"I think it's shaping up as the best field we've ever had," said new Kemper Executive Director Ben Brundred Jr. Among players committed so far are Bean, this season's leading money winner ($380,304), who won Sunday's Byron Nelson Classic; Norman, this season's second-leading money winner and 1984 Kemper Champion; John Mahaffey, Tournament Players Championship winner and the first Congressional Kemper winner, and Bill Glasson, the defending champion.
Also scheduled to appear are Craig Stadler, two-time Kemper champion; Curtis Strange, last year's leading money winner; Fred Couples, 1983 Kemper winner; and Lanny Wadkins, Jim Thorpe and Hal Sutton. The winners of each the Kemper Open since it moved to Congressional in 1980 from Charlotte, N.C., are entered.
"We hope to get Lee Trevino," said Brundred, acknowledging that it is doubtful the Kemper will snare Jack Nicklaus, who recently became the oldest golfer (46) to win the Masters. Nicklaus stages his own Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, the week before the Kemper.
Congressional, a long, wide-open, old-style course that last year's U.S. Open champion, Fuzzy Zoeller, once called a "long hitters paradise," will give way to the more restrictive but equally scenic Avenel layout.
"A couple of players have told me they are sick about having to leave this magnificent old facility," said Brundred. Congressional has been host of the 1964 U.S. Open, the 1976 PGA Championship and the last six Kempers.
"This Congressional is a more traditional old course," Brundred said. "The greens here are almost all elevated. The greens at Avenel are settled lower into a natural amphitheater. That course Avenel , within five years, will move into the top 50 in the country. It's a spectacular course."
Brundred said ticket sales are 15 percent ahead of last year, when the tournament drew a record 110,000. Advertising and program sales are running 20 percent over last year, he reported.
The only problem at the moment is this spring's acute lack of rainfall. "A good shower before the tournament would be fine," said Bill Black, manager of greens and grounds. "If we don't get it, we have the capability of irrigation the fairways have a sprinkling system . But irrigation just doesn't do what a good soaking rain would do." Bellizzi Wins
Jimmy Bellizzi, 58, from Germantown, played the back nine first in 30 and finished with 7-under-par 65 to win the Middle Atlantic PGA Boy Scouts Pro-Am yesterday by four strokes at Lakewood Country Club. Bellizzi had nine birdies and only two three-putt greens.
Bellizzi, who won the Montgomery Village Pro-Am 10 days ago, has won at least one MAPGA tournament for 23 consecutive years and took over the season's lead in money earnings and points.
Woody FitzHugh of Great Falls made a hole in one on the 115-yard 17th hole en route to a second-place 69.
Tied for third at 70 were Glen Barrett of Glenn Dale, Jack Doser and Webb Heintzelman of Montgomery Village, George Graefe of BWI Golf Center, Joe Max of Woodmont, Coleman Plecker of Manor, Wheeler Stewart of Belle Haven and Mike Ahrnsbrak of Shenandoah Valley.
Next at 71 were Herb Rose of Bay Hills and Dick Canney of Chantilly.
John Mackey of host Lakewood won amateur gross in a point system with a plus 41 score.
Gerald Bidlak, unattached, won amateur net, plus 12.