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Tour Report: Players tee off without fans after storm

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A powerful storm Friday night caused severe damage at Congressional Country Club.

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR A powerful storm Friday night caused severe damage at Congressional Country Club.

Photos of the damage | Tee Times | Live scores

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

BETHESDA, Md. — When George McNeill teed off Saturday afternoon, he did so to the applause of about 15 people, mostly workers at Congressional Country Club.

No spectators are allowed for the third round of the AT&T National, where tee times were pushed back because of an intense overnight storm that caused significant damage to the golf course.

“When I came in here this morning I didn’t think that we had a chance to play,” PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules and Competition Mark Russell said. “Giant trees down on fairways, cart paths blocked, just trees everywhere down, like a tornado went through here. It might have happened.”

The storm knocked out power for nearly 500,000 customers in the area and portions of the George Washington Highway were blocked off Friday night, while trees and debris were scattered along sections of Interstate 495. Reagan National Airport was briefly closed and the air traffic control tower evacuated.

“Unreal,” said Brian Harman, who is staying in nearby Tysons Corner and was still without power when he left for the golf course Saturday.

“It was crazy,” added James Driscoll, who drove through a portion of the storm while returning from dinner.

At Congressional, several trees were down throughout the golf course, including a 75-foot tree across the 14th fairway. Fallen trees also blocked the entrance to the club before workers cleared them in the wee hours of Saturday.

The PGA TOUR issued a statement that read: "In the interest of safety for our fans and volunteers, the AT&T National is closed to spectators and volunteers for Saturday. The tournament will honor all Saturday tickets on Sunday’s round."

“Good luck finding your ball in the rough,” said Driscoll.

Added Russell: “It’s a situation where it’s dangerous out there with a lot of limbs down, a lot of trees down, places to walk. With a large gallery, we just thought it would be best for everyone and everyone’s interest and safety that we didn’t allow that today.”

Because of damage to the ShotLink truck, there will also be limited data with just scores available.

Temperatures are also expected to reach triple digits again and a heat advisory has been issued for the area.

Friday, a maintenance worker died, though it was unclear whether it was heat related. A handful of caddies also were treated for heat-related issues.

Because of the delay, it’s possible players could again go off split tees and in groups of three for Sunday’s final round, Russell added.

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