- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

The 17th hole at Bethesda’s Congressional Country Club claimed yet another contender yesterday at the Booz Allen Classic.

Defending Booz Allen champ Adam Scott had a chance to catch eventual winner Sergio Garcia late in the final round, but his second shot at No.17 ricocheted out of a greenside bunker and into the water. The Aussie went on to bogey the hole and finished two shots back.

Scott’s pitfall at Congressional’s penultimate hole has historical precedent. In the 1997 U.S. Open, Colin Montgomerie bogeyed the 17th to fall out of a share for the lead with eventual champion Ernie Els.

Minutes later, Tom Lehman arrived at the hole needing a birdie to tie Els. Instead, he plopped it into the water to all but clinch Els’ second Open title.

The stakes weren’t quite as great yesterday, though Scott looked to parlay a solid week around surprisingly receptive Congressional into the first back-to-back Booz Allen victories since Craig Stadler won in 1981 and 1982 at Old Blue.

He still had title hopes when he reached the par-4, 466-yard 17th, where he drilled his drive a few inches into the first cut of rough. Just 133 yards from the hole, he pulled out a sand wedge and blasted the ball well past the tight pin placement. It bounced into and then out of a bunker before caroming into the water.

“I was trying to get it somewhere inside 20 feet,” Scott said. “I wasn’t being greedy going for it. I was playing safe. I never thought it could go that far, but when it landed I was thinking ‘Oh, boy.’”

Scott still had a par chip after a penalty drop at the 17th, and he gave it a good run but rolled it just left of the hole. He went on to par the 18th and finished with a 68, his eighth sub-70 Booz Allen round in as many tries.

Scott had played an efficient round before the 17th, making four birdies and no bogeys to stay within reach of Garcia, who flirted with a course record and reached 15 under on two occasions. Scott briefly pulled within a shot with a birdie at No.15 to go to 13 under. Garcia, playing in the group ahead of Scott, responded with a birdie at the 16th minutes later.

Yet moments after Scott made his ill-fated approach to the 17th, he looked across the pond to see Garcia bogey the 18th to slide to 14 under, a development that underscored the opportunity Scott allowed to slip away.

“I thought I was right in it,” said Scott, who won last year’s Booz Allen by four shots at the TPC at Avenel. “It made me even more mad to walk on the 17th green and see him way over on the right on 18. Then I watched him make bogey, and there was nothing I could do about it. I would give anything to have that shot back into 17.”

Nevertheless, Scott gave Garcia a run on a day high-profile players Els (72), Phil Mickelson (74), Luke Donald (73) and Lee Westwood (74) struggled after starting the day within two shots of the lead.

“I gave it a good shake, but 17 was certainly not needed,” Scott said. “Everything went down the toilet there, but it was a good defense, and I had a good week here.”

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