Barry Svrluga on the eerie quiet at Congressional after fans were kept away, something everyone hopes is a one-off circumstance for the PGA Tour.
Who remained: The 80 players who made the cut; their caddies; the media; some wives and girlfriends and family; the staffs from Woods’s foundation, Congressional and the PGA Tour, some of whom were bleary-eyed; and small groups of volunteers deemed essential to conducting the event. Tee times were delayed nearly six hours, and when George McNeill stood over his first drive of the day at 1 p.m. — the first man to begin play — 16 people sat in the stands behind the first tee. The loudest sounds were the chirping of birds.
The only sound Saturday was the ball hitting the bottom of the plastic cup. It elicited a minor fist-pump from Woods and drew the quietest cheer you'll ever hear from a Tiger gallery with only a few dozen workers, club members and media following his group.
"I told Tiger that was a Bo Van Pelt crowd, so I was used to that," said Van Pelt, who is tied for second with Woods. "I was very comfortable with 10 or 15 people watching me play golf."
It showed. He matched Woods shot-for-shot with a 67 of his own.
Billy Hurley III was perhaps most impressive with the day's best score, a 66, that has the former Navy man and Annapolis resident another stroke behind Woods.
A victory by Hurley would be an incredible story, but the story on Saturday was Woods, who made three birdies in his first six holes and added another one on No. 10 before finishing bogey-free.
Ryan Ballengee on the incredible efforts of the grounds crew to make Congressional playable.
"We knew there would be good conditions," he said. "We also knew we couldn't get in 36 holes in this heat, so if we didn't play today, we would have a Monday finish."
The initial thought was it would be a Monday finale. At 6:30 a.m., McLaughlin first talked with tour staff, thinking it would be "really hard to play." The remarkable work of the Congressional grounds crew, however, had the Tour confident by 9 a.m. they could play today.
McLaughlin, who has been working at tournaments since 1988, doesn't think that would have been the case at many other venues.
"That's why you come to Congressional," he said. "They host majors."
This Golf Central segment has some of the better shots of the damage before it was miraculously cleaned up by the Congressional crew. They also do a nice job capturing the awkwardness of Saturday's crowd-noise free round.
Round three highlights from the PGA Tour captures some of the strangeness, too.