- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

Members of Congressional Country Club in Bethesda voted overwhelmingly late Thursday 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 of a club-record 1,324 ballots expressed support for the AT&T; National, which is scheduled for July 5-8.

“It’s an indication of the tremendous reaction from the Washington area,” said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who said 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 hold 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 well as 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 the tournament site could be rotated between 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.

“I’m excited,” said Woods, who is competing at the Masters this weekend in Augusta, Ga. “It’s one of the great venues that we have in the United States. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our tournament.”

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 now 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.

Staff Writer Barker Davis contributed to this article from Augusta.

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