To provide a sense of just how hard Congressional Country Club was on Sunday, only six players were under par in the Quicken Loans National. For the week, only ten were. Out of the carnage came Justin Rose and Shawn Stefani in a one-hole playoff won by Rose.
Ironically, Stefani lost his chance when he drove his ball into the left rough, got line of sight relief from the grandstands and then hit his second shot into the pond that wrapped around the left edge of the green. He tried to play a knockdown shot under tree limbs that was perfect were it not for the right to left slant of the fairway that funneled the ball straight into the pond.
Ironically, because Rose did the exact same thing on his second shot on 18 in regulation for the same reason. Both of them ended up shooting 1-under on the day and they still ended up in a playoff. Yet another measure of how tough the course was; nobody was able to make a move, Andres Romero’s 3-under being the low round of the day. That only got him to T5, an outcome he was surely pleased with.
But the great mystery was the undoing of Patrick Reed, the leader by two at 6-under going into the round. He shot 6-over and ended up finishing T11. Yet another measure of how difficult the course was.
He started his day great with an opening birdie on the 1st. And then he doubled the 2nd. But then he birdied 3 to get back to even par on the day. He showed himself a fighter when he bogeyed the next two and then bounced back with two birdies to make the turn still at even. It was the back nine that was his undoing: double, double, par, bogey, bogey and then snuck out of Dodge with a birdie and capitulating bogey.
“Just seemed like everything that could go wrong back nine, did.”
But unfazed, he’s using it as motivation:
“Yeah, I did a lot of things great this week. But this definitely burns and definitely get me more fired up for more events coming up.”
“You know, any time you put yourself in position on Sunday to win, you know you’re doing something right. I’m going to keep on trucking along, keep working hard and hopefully keep getting myself in these positions. I was 100 percent going into this week on closing [out a 54-hole lead] and now I’m 75 percent. It’s still pretty good odds. So hopefully I can continue and get ourselves in that position and close it off.”
One of the joys of being an exempt player on Tour is there’s always next week. So put today’s troubles behind you and press forward.