- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

Members of Congressional Country Club in Bethesda voted overwhelmingly late last night in favor of allowing the new Tiger Woods-hosted golf tournament to be played on their course this year and in 2008, guaranteeing the return of a major PGA Tour event in the Washington area.

Club President Stuart Long said 1,204 out of a club-record 1,324 ballots expressed support for the AT&T; National, scheduled to be played July 5 through 8.

“It’s an indication of the tremendous reaction from the Washington area,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who noted that most private clubs approve tournaments by a much smaller margin. “We’re delighted and thrilled that we have a good partnership.”

The deal with Congressional stretches only to 2008 because the club will host the U.S. Amateur in 2009 and the U.S. Open in 2011.

Finchem said the tour is committed to keeping the tournament in the D.C. area but that it is just beginning to look at options beyond 2009. Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., is an option, he said, as is TPC at Avenel in Potomac, which is about to undergo a $20 million renovation.

“We’re not going to worry about that until after this year’s event,” said Finchem, who suggested that the tournament site could be rotated among Congressional and other sites. “We are looking at options, and we’re looking to expand our list of options. It’s totally up to what’s in the best interests of the tournament.”

The Tiger Woods Foundation will be the main charitable beneficiary of the tournament. Woods, the world’s top-ranked golfer, said he plans to play in the event but might be forced to back out because he and his wife are expecting their first child.

The AT&T; National will be an invitational tournament with about 120 golfers and a purse of $6 million. Finchem said specific qualifying rules won’t be determined until the end of May, but several golfers already have committed to playing.

Congressional has just three months to get the course ready for tournament play, but Long said doing so would not be difficult.

“We always keep both of our courses in championship condition,” he said. “That will not be a problem. We’ll have the course in great shape.”

Tickets for the event are on sale now through the tournament’s Web site. Long said he does not expect the club to request a cap on the number of tickets to be sold.

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