Some observations and thoughts (emphasis on the former) from the first round here at Congressional Country Club:
Pack a lunch if you're walking from the 17th green to the 18th tee. They built a new tee for the 523-yard par 4 finishing hole and, man, it is back there. Way back by the fence. The hole is downhill, though, and the players have moderate iron shots in. I'll say one thing: If they have the Open here again someday, they'd better look for somewhere else to add length. Buses roll right behind the players on 18.
Congressional doesn't have a lot of holes that stand out. It's more of an overall effect. Lots of big, mature trees (an endangered species on many courses, what with the trend in course maintenace leaning toward chopping down trees to give greens air and light), long holes and a striking view of the huge clubhouse from the 18th fairway and green.
Ernie Els, the defending Open champion of Congressional, if you will (he won in '97, the last time they held it here), is right now 1 under through seven holes. In a multiple tie for second.
It rained a little this morning, they expect some thunder showers this afternoon and bigger thunderstorms tonight. Could be a softer, more forgiving course tomorrow.