- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2012

Robert Garrigus shot a 2-over 73 on Saturday at the AT&T National, but if it wasn’t for a life-changing decision in 2003, he may have not even been in the field.

Garrigus entered a rehabilitation center in San Diego to receive help for his substance abuse problems. He even admitted to Golf Digest that during the 2002 Nationwide Tour season he and several other golfers would smoke marijuana during some events.

“I figured I was wasting my time,” said Garrigus. “[I] completely changed everything in my life. I met my wife because of it, I became involved with the church. Everything snowballed and it was big. I needed to do that.”

Successfully completing the 45-day program, Garrigus returned to the Nationwide Tour and eventually finished ninth in the 2005 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament to earn his PGA Tour card, where he’s been since.

“I figured I could win out here [PGA Tour],” said Garrigus. “I could [at least] compete.”

He became known, though, on the Tour for a collapse at the 2010 St. Jude Classic, when he held a three-shot lead entering the final hole, triple bogeyed it and was eliminated in the first hole of the playoff.

Garrigus made up for the disappointment in the final tournament of 2010 by winning the Children’s Miracle Network Classic after a final-day 8-under 64 to finish at 21-under. The win earned him a PGA Tour exemption until the end of the 2012 season.

Playing in his third U.S. Open in 2011 at Congressional Country Club’s Blue Course, Garrigus made history by becoming the fifth player ever to finish under par in all four of his rounds at a U.S. Open. He finished tied for third at 8-under, eight strokes behind winner, Rory McIlroy.

“It’s a great piece of history … it means a lot to me, not to everyone else, but I’m in the record books,” said Garrigus. “I just wish it would’ve been in a win.”

Entering Sunday’s final round at Congressional, Garrigus is five strokes behind leader Brendon de Jonge. Seeing seven golfers shoot 67 or lower Saturday, he hopes to contend.

“It’s going to be tough, but I’ve done it before shooting 8-under on the last day to win,” said Garrigus. “I might need one of those days … a very mojo-filled round.”

Garrigus added, “Hopefully there are some fans here so they can cheer.”

Hurley goes low

The lack of spectators did not affect the play of many golfers, especially Billy Hurley III.

Hurley shot a 5-under 66, which was the lowest score Saturday and the third lowest of the tournament behind Hunter Mahan and Cameron Trinagle’s 6-under 65 on Friday. The low score puts him tied with Mahan for fourth at 5-under and two strokes behind de Jonge.

“It was a lot of fun out there,” Hurley said. “I really only made one mistake … playing good any day is good.”

Hurley wasn’t the only one with a low score on Saturday at the crowd-less Congressional Country Club.

Six golfers, Tiger Woods, Bo Van Pelt, Chez Reavie, Greg Owen, John Huh and Sean O’Hair, finished 4-under for the day.

“Any time you can go on Congressional without making a bogey, you’re pretty happy,” said Van Pelt on his 67.

An unusual second cut

With 80 golfers making the weekend, coupled with the severe weather and damages to the course, there was a second cut at the conclusion of Saturday’s round.

The top-70 will move on to play Sunday. The plan is to tee off at 11:00 a.m. at the first and tenth tees, similar to Saturday. The delay is to ensure the course gets as much debris removed as possible.

Notables who missed the second cut include amateur Beau Hossler and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III.

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