2005 Booz Allen Classic - Views From a Special Event in Washington

Text and Captions By Jeffrey A. Rendall; Photos By Jeffrey A. Rendall


BETHESDA, MD – It was hot, the fans came out, and the level of play was what you’d expect from a competition featuring eighteen of the top twenty ranked players in the world.


The venue was perfect.  Even the weather cooperated – at least from a lack of precipitation standpoint.


We’re talking about the 2005 Booz Allen Classic, played for one year (at least) at historic Congressional Country Club, just down the road from its traditional site at TPC Avenel.  The players, during post-round interviews, raved about the quality of the layout (the Blue Course), wishing there were more like it on the PGA Tour (and pointedly hinting they wish the tournament was permanently played there).


You certainly sense there’s no big push to get back to Avenel, except for maybe Congressional’s members, who want their golf course back.


At any rate, Spaniard Sergio Garcia fired a final-round 65 to separate himself from a bunched field after Saturday’s third-round, where there were many quality players within a few shots of the lead.  55-year-old Tom Kite surprised everyone by taking a one stroke lead into Sunday, only to fade a bit with a three-over 74 in the concluding eighteen holes.


Garcia made his move early on Sunday, carding four birdies and an eagle to shoot 30 on the outward nine – at one time opening up a three-shot lead.  Davis Love III shot a five-under 66 to move into a tie for second at 12-under-par, which he shared with Ben Crane and 2004 Booz Allen winner, Australian Adam Scott.


The world’s top ranked player, Vijay Singh played a steady four rounds but never seriously contended, finishing at five-under (he subsequently lost his #1 world ranking to Tiger Woods).  Third ranked Ernie Els also made a move on Sunday, shooting four birdies in a row from the sixth through ninth holes to reach 13-under.  He faded on the back nine, however, and wound up in a tie for seventh at 8-under-par.


A Few Observations


The golf was fantastic, but the galleries were also well behaved, and because of the fairly spread-out leader board pairings, there was adequate viewing room for all of the big names’ groups.  Congressional Country Club is a terrific place to hold a tournament – it’s very walking friendly, and despite the fact it doesn’t regularly hold a Tour event, provides more than enough space for people to move around.


The facilities are excellent, the food was tasty and the tournament was well marshaled by the local army of volunteers.


Overhearing the whispers from the crowd, I gathered that folks really enjoyed seeing the Booz Allen at Congressional.  However, the patrons didn’t just stop there, with mere praise for the event’s temporary home – they basically went out of their way to bash TPC Avenel as well.


Avenel is no Congressional – and no matter what’s done to the clubhouse, practice facilities and golf course, it never will be.  But it also doesn’t deserve the amount of avarice it receives from Washington area fans.  Avenel’s got its good points, and much of what ails it can be fixed, in one way or another.


What’s most important is to keep for many years the event’s devoted title sponsor, Booz Allen Hamilton, led by Dr. Ralph Shrader – who is very dedicated to making this tournament into one of the best on Tour.  Shrader has been very forthright with his disappointment on the pace of improvements to TPC Avenel (to date, there haven’t been any, and there also won’t be major changes before next year’s event).


The quality that Shrader and the Booz Allen people bring is the right attitude and resources to make our Washington area PGA Tour stop one of the best on Tour.  If the PGA Tour (which owns TPC Avenel) fails to uphold its end of the bargain, we could very well lose Booz Allen, and maybe even the event itself.  And that would be a shame.


All in all, however, we’d have to declare 2005 as a resounding success.  And looking to the bright side, at least Sergio Garcia will probably be back next year, defending the title he won just a few days ago.


Here’re some pictorial moments from the one-of-a-kind 2005 Booz Allen Classic:

2004 Booz Allen Classic winner Adam Scott finished two strokes back in 2005, in a tie for second. Here's hoping the talented Australian adds the DC Tour stop to his schedule every year.

Sergio Garcia shot a cool 65 on a hot day to capture the 2005 Booz Allen Classic. Here, he celebrates draining a lengthy birdie putt on the 16th hole.

55-year-old Tom Kite played in the final group on Sunday, but just couldn't hang on to a one-stroke lead. His strong showing proves he's still got it -- and we hope to see more of him contending in PGA Tour events.

A tucked pin and prevailing wind gave this bunker (16th green) some business on the final day. Here, JL Lewis blasts out and saves par.

Anyone who tries to kill the ball should follow Ernie Els for a couple holes. He didn't earn the nickname 'The Big Easy' for nothing.

Phil Mickelson makes a full turn on his drive off the 15th tee. The tall lefty faded somewhat during the final round, but his mind was probably thinking a week ahead.

Vijay Singh follows a putt late in Sunday's round. Singh never contended, but his steady play was still fun to watch.

Englishman Lee Westwood looks towards the heavens after going for the green on the par five ninth hole. Judging by his reaction, he barely missed.

Local favorite Fred Funk will see this bunker in his nightmares. He left this shot short in the sand, then another after that. He got up and down on his third try to salvage a double bogey. Despite this snafu, it was great seeing him play well in his hometown event.

Sergio Garcia displaying perfect balance off the tee on the par five 15th hole. When he's on, he hits it just as far as all the 'big guns.'

Here's what the players saw walking down the 17th fairway on Sunday. Congressional Country Club's Blue Course certainly provides one of the best settings in golf, which will make the 2005 Booz Allen Classic memorable in itself.


The 2005 Booz/Allen Classic

Congressional Country Club, June 8 – 12, 2005


Winner:  Sergio Garcia.  Score:  270.  Winner’s Share:  $900,000.  Total Purse:  $5 million.

Related Links   Comments on this article?
Maryland National Golf Club
Hollow Creek Golf Club
Rocky Gap Resort
PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville
Whiskey Creek Golf Club
E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor: