Bo Van Pelt kept bogeys off his card and picked up an extra shot when his wedge spun back into the hole for an eagle. It’s a formula that would work well at a US Open, which is what Congressional felt like Thursday in the AT&T National.
On a day when the temperature in Bethesda, Md., was in the 90s and only seven players managed a score in the 60s, Van Pelt opened with a 4-under-par 67 to grab a one-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Brendon De Jonge, and Jimmy Walker, who bogeyed his final hole.
Tiger Woods was never under par in the afternoon and opened with a 1-over 72.
So this is what the US Open was supposed to look like.
The venerable Blue Course took a beating last year in the so-called toughest test in golf when unfavorable weather conditions in the weeks leading up to the US Open and overnight rain during the championship made Congressional a pushover. Rory McIlroy had a record score of 16-under 268 for an eight-shot victory.
The AT&T National was more of a grind.
Billy Hurley III joined Pat Perez and Jason Day at 2-under 69.
Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love were at 70, along with Robert Garrigus, who tied for third last year at the US Open by breaking par in all four rounds.
Champions — Bruce Vaughan shot a 6-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Fred Funk in the Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh, the third of five Champions Tour majors. The 55-year-old Vaughan matched the lowest round of his career and tied the first-round record in the event. He won the 2008 Senior British Open for his lone Champions Tour title.
Vaughan capped his bogey-free round with a birdie on par-5 18th, holing an 8-foot putt after hitting his approach into a greenside bunker.
Fred Couples, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., was two strokes back at Fox Chapel along with Tom Lehman, Michael Allen, and Joe Daley.
Greg Norman opened with a 67 in his first Champions Tour event since 2009.
European — Gregory Bourdy and Jeev Milkha Singh shot 7-under 65 to share the first-round lead in the first round of the Irish Open, while home favorite McIlroy was five strokes back after a sloppy finish at Portrush, Northern Ireland.
NEPGA Junior — Patrick Frodigh and Megan Khang went wire-to-wire to win the championship at Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown. Both earn spots in the Junior PGA Championship, scheduled for July 31-Aug. 2 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Khang won by 17 shots after rounds of 67-66. Madi Mae West (75-75) was second. Frodigh held on for a two-stroke victory, shooting a final-round 77 to complete 36 holes at 3-over 147. Timothy Manwaring (75-74) and Benjamin Balter (74-75) tied for second.