AT&T National 2012: Storms Cause Golfers to Play Without Spectators

Benjamin J. Block@BenjaminBlock21Correspondent IIJuly 1, 2012

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 30: Jimmy Walker hits his second shot on the 14th hole during Round Three of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club on June 30, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland. An overnight storm in the area knocked down several trees on the course.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  

While this question has always been open to interpretation, several trees on Congressional golf course did fall as a result of Friday night's storm, and it made plenty of noise.  

The aftermath of one of the worst storms that Bethesda, Maryland has seen in years forced the PGA Tour to prohibit spectators from coming to watch some of the biggest names in golf compete on Saturday.  

“It’s dangerous out there,” said Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition. “With a lot of limbs down, a lot of trees down, places to walk and with a large gallery, we just thought it would be best if we didn’t allow that today. You all know what an extreme measure that is. We don’t do that.”

There were still camera crews everywhere and a limited amount of the players' family members were allowed to walk the course, but the atmosphere was strangely quiet.  There were no "oos" and "aahs", no cat-calls from the gallery, no gallery at all.

You know that feeling and adrenaline you get when you arrive at the first tee of your local public course and there's about eight foursomes waiting and watching you tee off?  That kind of crowd and energy is more than what these pros faced on Saturday.  

I guess it's fair to say that for one day in our lifetime, we've played in front of more people than the pros did.  

Tiger Woods still managed to command the biggest following Saturday as his gallery was probably around 50 people, though he likely had a bigger following when he was 10 years old than he had Saturday.  

Even though Tiger heard no roars, his laser-focus enabled him to climb from five strokes off the lead to only one back heading into Sunday.

After the quietest four-birdie round of his career, Woods talked about the eerie day at Congressional.

"Whether we have thousands of people or we have a small handful of people out there, it doesn't change the execution of the shot, what does change is when I hole a shot like I did on six, it's not going to be as loud today as it normally is," Woods told reporters.

The golf course is honoring Saturday's ticket holders for the final round on Sunday so I would expect a little added energy from the gallery.  And after Wood's charge up the leaderboard on Saturday, leaving him only one back of Brendon de Jonge's eight-under lead, he will have the chance to become the first golfer this season to rack up three PGA Tour wins.