It was 11 years ago that a former U.S. president – George H.W. Bush – was given the honor of hitting the ceremonial first tee shot at the new AT&T National. With Tiger Woods as host, Congressional Country Club as the site and a theme of honoring U.S. servicemen, the concept was an instant hit.
The fanfare of 2007 has given way to indifference in 2018.
The tournament was without a sponsor until just a few weeks ago, when Quicken Loans agreed to a one-year extension – as a bridge to its sponsorship of a new event in Detroit next year. Congressional has severed ties.
Even Woods has been less involved – part owing to injury and last year’s rehab stint to deal with prescription painkillers, part as his firm has poured its energy into the Genesis Open near his southern California roots.
Woods is joined by just four of the top 30 in the current world rankings. And while journeymen pros often struggle to get into invitational fields, this one includes such bygones as Ben Crane, Jason Gore, Hunter Mahan and Shawn Stefani.