WASHINGTON — Even though Tiger Woods is not participating in this year’s Quicken Loans National, there will be plenty of notables teeing off Thursday.
Unfortunately, for every Ernie Els, who has four Major Championships, including the 1997 U.S. Open played at Congressional Country Club, there’s a Chris Stroud (the 34-year old has yet to win a PGA event in his career) or two in a trio. Sometimes three.
Separating the wheat from the chaff in Bethesda, here are groups to watch Thursday.
Early riser reward
A former Major champ gets the first day underway with a 7 a.m. tee time on the first hole. Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open. Even though he’s won just once since 2011, the Wells Fargo Championship, we promised and delivered a Major winner leading off the tourney.
Three groups with eight Major titles begin their first rounds on the 10th tee from 7:48 to 8:12 a.m. Four belong to Els (8 a.m., and let’s bring up the ’97 Open at Congressional one more time), while Webb Simpson (2012 U.S. Open) gets the Major momentum underway at 7:48. The lone group to boast three Major champions follows Els at 8:12: Davis Love III (1997 PGA), Jim Furyk (2003 U.S. Open) and Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA). For those who don’t want to wake up early Thursday, three-time Major champ Vijay Singh tees off at 1:12 p.m. from the 10th hole.
Furyk — who’s making the 230-mile drive (or 55-minute flight) to Congressional Country Club — finished three shots off the pace at this year’s U.S. Open and was one of four top-20 finishers this prior weekend at Oakmont. Brendan Steele (tied for 15th) is in the first group of the day with Glover, while Mark Leishman (tied for 18th) tees off from the first hole at noon. Bryson DeChambeau (tied for 15th) is in the final group of the day from hole No. 1.
For those who want to experience the decade that has been Tiger’s Tournament, look no further than 1 p.m. on the first tee. Defending champ Troy Merritt is paired with 2007 AT&T National (the tourney’s title when it began) winner K.J. Choi. Patrick Reed is the other guy in this group. The 2013 champ Bill Haas golfs with Els for the first two days. Last year’s runner-up Rickie Fowler tees off one group later than Choi and Merritt.
Don’t discount Reed, though. The 25-year-old ranks seventh on the current PGA Tour’s money list — one of two who ranks in the top 10 despite not winning a tour event thus far this year. The other is Kevin Chappell, whose three runner-up finishes in 2016 have him sixth on the money list. Chappell has yet to win in his tour career. He plays with Rory Sabbatini (six tour wins) and Chris Kirk (triumphs) beginning on the first hole at 7:48 a.m.
Bill Hurley III was born in Leesburg, Virginia, and excelled on both sides of the Potomac: At Loudoun County High School, Hurley was named All-State and All-Met; while at the United States Naval Academy, he was named Academic All-American. Hurley’s highest finish this year has been a tie for 41st at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but he has played well in Tiger’s Tournament at Congressional, finishing fourth in 2012 and eight in 2014. Hurley’s first round starts 8:48 a.m. Thursday on the first hole.