He made an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 12 to take a two-stroke lead. That feat would have provoked a loud cheer on a normal Saturday. Instead, his caddie made the only sound, muttering: “Nice putt.” There are louder reactions to birdies every day at your local track.
“It was actually really strange out there, took a while to get used to,” de Jonge said. “It’s nice to have people out there and get the buzz and kind of feed off adrenaline.”
A long Saturday in Bethesda actually began Friday night. Maintenance crews began working to clear the course of trees and debris shortly after the storm passed through.
Winds up to 70 miles per hour downed trees and blew over tents set up for the tournament. Fallen trees intersected fairways and walking paths. Smaller branches and leaves were strewn everywhere.
“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.”
The start of the third round was delayed six hours while grounds crews, tournament officials and Tiger Woods Foundation members worked to get the course and tournament infrastructure ready for play.
Fans are welcome at Sunday’s final round, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Gates open at 9 a.m., and the final group, including Woods, tees off at 1 p.m. Tickets for Saturday will be honored Sunday, tournament director Greg McLaughlin said. Tournament officials will formulate a compensation plan for unused Saturday tickets.
After play completed on Saturday, grounds crews resumed their work clearing the course.
“They did an unbelievable job,” McLaughlin said. “Without them we would not have been able to play at all today. You come to Congressional because these guys host majors, and they have a grounds crew that hosts majors. With all due respect to grounds crews around the country, there’s a difference right there.”