Most people connected with last year’s AT&T National will remember it for the derecho that ripped through the area and resulted in fans being banned from the course for Saturday’s round.
But the most vivid memory for PGA Tour veteran Chris Stroud – the runner up at the Travelers Championship last week – was nearly passing out due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. The 31-year-old eventually withdrew from the 2012 event in the middle of Round 2 as the heat index soared to 113 degrees.
The forecast for this week’s tournament calls for temps in the mid-to-high 80s and uncomfortable humidity. Although it won’t rival last year’s conditions, Stroud won’t soon forget his ordeal.
“I just remember I was on No. 17 green, which was my 26th hole, and I was playing decent,” he recalled this week at Congressional Country Club. “But I was starting to get frustrated because I was feeling so weak and tired. I started seeing black spots on the green. I bent down to line up [a putt] and I remember getting up, and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I got really lightheaded.”
Even though Stroud had prepared himself for the heat and humidity by hydrating in the days leading up to the tournament, it wasn’t enough. On the next hole, Stroud barely hit a ball 100 yards out of the rough. He immediately knew he was done for the week.
“I had no energy left, no power,” he said. “I go into the [medial] trailer and hey put ice packs on me, on my chest, my neck. I didn’t even feel them.”
Stroud is hoping for a better result this week in Bethesda – and to build on the momentum he generated a week ago at the Travelers.
He chipped in for birdie from 51 feet on the 18th hole to force a playoff. But he ended up getting edged by journeyman Ken Duke on the second hole. Duke, 44, claimed his first PGA Tour win.
Stroud was denied his. But he left heartened by coming so close.
“I’ve got look at it positively,” he said. “I hit an awesome chip under the gun. I did everything I possibly could, and then Ken hit a great shot on the second playoff hole to win. To be honest, I’ve got no regrets.”
Through the first 12 holes of Thursday’s opening round, Stroud was tied for fourth at 1-under, just a stroke behind the leaders.