De Jonge leads the AT&T National, but Tiger is lurking

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De Jonge leads the AT&T National, but Tiger is lurking

For the second straight sweltering afternoon at Congressional Country Club, Tiger Woods short game helped him move up the leaderboard at the AT&T National.

Unfortunately for area golf fans, none of them were there to witness it.

Woods shot a bogey-free four under par 67 to move into a three-way tie for second place on a course that was eerily empty Saturday as spectators and non-essential tournament workers asked to stay away for safety reasons after a powerful storm Friday night left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Brendon de Jonge, meantime, shot 69 and leads the field at 7-under. Lurking just behind the Zimbabwe native is a trio that includes Woods, Bo Van Pelt, and Seung-Yul Noh, setting up a potentially thrilling Sunday in Bethesda.

With only a handful of Congressional members, media and relatives of the golfers on the grounds, this was anything but a normal weekend day on the PGA Tour.

It was similar to what we've faced when we play overseas in practice rounds or when we have dangerous summer conditions such as thunderstorms, Woods said. Ive played in front of small crowds like this, but not generally for an 18-hole competitive round.

Added de Jonge, who attended Virginia Tech: There was no buzz. It was hard to get the adrenaline going. It kind of felt like you were playing a Tuesday practice round or a qualifier.

Play had been scheduled to begin around 7 a.m. but was postponed until 1 p.m. to give workers enough time to clear as many as 40 fallen trees, hundreds of branches and other debris that had been strewn about by a fast-moving derecho that packed 70 mph winds.

It was sort of awe-striking a little bit, said Leesburg, Va., native Billy Hurley III, who is tied for fifth after carding a 66. Youre walking around and youre just like, Wow, thats crazy a storm can knock down that tree. Trees this big around just snapped.

Said Van Pelt: Those were trees that have probably been around 100 years. Theyve survived a lot of storms. The fact that this one knocked them down just shows you how powerful it was.

The decision to ban fans was a difficult but necessary one, according to Mark Russell, the PGAs vice president of rules and competition.

Several trees were snapped at the trunk in spectator areas. Power around the course was spotty and often dependent on a generator. And the roads leading up to the entrance were littered by fallen trees and large branches.

Thats very drastic decision, not allowing fans to come out, Russell said. But its in their best interest. Its a dangerous situation in the area today with the heat and storm and everything.

Tickets for Saturdays round will be honored on Sunday, according to tournament officials. Tickets can also be returned to the Tiger Woods Foundation for a refund.

Tee times on Sunday will be 11 a.m.- 1 p.m., utilizing Nos. 1 and 10.

When Mahan, who owned a two stroke lead after 36 holes, teed off Saturday, there were four people seated in the grandstand and three of them were tournament workers.

And by the time Mahan bogeyed No. 4 a short while later, Tigers charge was gathering momentum. Mahan, meantime, finished with four bogies and, as a result, enters Sunday tied with Hurley, two strokes behind de Jonge.

As Mahan faltered, Woods surged, scoring birdies on three of the first six holes, including a highlight reel chip into the cup from the rough on No. 6, eliciting a confident fist pump.

After scoring pars on each of the next three holes, Woods vaulted into second place with a birdie on No. 10, the 181-yard par-3 where the green is protected by a water hazard. He stuck his tee-shot about eight feet from the hole, then watched nervously as his putt rolled around the lip of the cup nearly a full 360-degrees before dropping in.

Woods, now ranked No. 4 in the world, has two wins on the PGA Tour this season, 73 in his career and hoisted the trophy in this tournament three years ago.

The men hell be pursuing on Sunday have one PGA victory between them and certainly will be aware that you-know-who is on the prowl.

I played myself into good shape for tomorrow, Woods said. Im happy with the way I played.

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Braden Holtby wasting no time, will start Saturday against the New York Islanders

Braden Holtby wasting no time, will start Saturday against the New York Islanders

Team Canada just wrapped up a World Cup Tournament that included three exhibition games, three round-robin games, a semi-final and a two-game final. In those eight games, Braden Holtby saw only 29:40 of ice time, about one half of an exhibition game against Team USA.

Back with the Caps, Holtby will now look to make up for lost time as he will start in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Islanders.

Saturday's morning skate was the first time Holtby was back on the ice for the Caps, but with the season opener now only 12 days away, Holtby wants to start getting back into game shape.

Holtby acknowledged after Saturday's skate that he was not in game shape and had expressed a desire to the coaches to play in Saturday's game to try to get as much game action as possible.

"There's still enough time," Holtby said. "I've still been on the ice and doing some drills so it's not starting at square one but the game action is key. You can practice all you want, but once you get into a game it's completely different just getting the stamina back up, the mental stamina.

"Still got enough games to make sure we're ready."

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Joining Holtby in his preseason debut will be head coach Barry Trotz who will be behind the bench for the first time in the preseason after coaching for Team Canada.

"Talked to Todd [Reirden] yesterday and he wanted me to come on the bench and we'll get everybody in our proper roles and so I will go on the bench tonight," Trotz said. "I wasn't expecting to, but I will. I didn't want to come in and just, 'hey the sheriff's in town.' These guys have done an exceptional job and I just didn't want to do that, but they came to me and said I think we just want to go to our roles here and let's go move forward."

The game will not be in Brooklyn in the Islanders' usual home of the Barclays Center, but rather in Bridgeport, Conn., the home of New York's AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Here are the lines based on Saturday's morning skate:

Marcus Johansson - Lars Eller - Justin Williams

Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Stanislav Galiev

Paul Carey - Chandler Stephenson - Brett Connolly

Liam O'Brien - Brad Malone - Riley Barber

The defensive pairs shuffled throughout the morning, but the six defensemen are Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Brooks Orpik, Aaron Ness, Tyler Lewington and Nate Schmidt.

Vitek Vanecek will backup Holtby.

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Braden Holtby returns to Caps after learning experience of the World Cup

Braden Holtby returns to Caps after learning experience of the World Cup

The World Cup of Hockey ended on Thursday, but Capitals goalie Braden Holtby is wasting no time in trying to get back into the rhythm with the Caps. Despite the tournament ending just two days ago in Toronto, Holtby practiced in the morning skate and will start for the Caps in Saturday's preseason game against the New York Islanders.

Holtby can now add World Cup champion to his growing resume as Canada was able to defeat Europe in two games, but he did not play as active a role with the team as had hoped. Despite being the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Holtby found himself relegated to third on the depth chart behind Carey Price and Corey Crawford.

But Holtby turned his time with Team Canada into a learning experience. He worked closely with Crawford and said he learned a lot from the two-time Stanley Cup winner.

"I really appreciate his game," Holtby said Saturday after morning skate. "You don't get to see him very much obviously being out west. He does some things outstandingly well that I can learn from him and try to get better at. Great guy, works really hard and earns what he gets and that was probably the best part of the experience."

Though Holtby said he had expected to take the role of No. 3 and was prepared for to be last on the depth chart heading into the tournament, he also acknowledged it was difficult getting into game shape and then slowing things down when practice began.

"It was tough," Holtby said. "It's almost like starting all over again after the first week of camp there because there wasn't much action as a goalie."

Participating in the World Cup also meant missing part of Caps' training camp. The further Canada went, the more time he would miss. For most players, missing training camp was not an issue as they were playing games in a competitive tournament.

"They were playing so that changes a little bit," Holtby said of the other participants. "Defintely not game shape yet for me."

Not only did Holtby not play a single game at the World Cup, being third on the depth chart also meant less practice time. Still, he said he does not feel behind in his preparations for the season.

"I really haven't missed that much of camp," Holtby said. "We've played two games, it's not a lot. ... You can be in the best shape of your life, but it doesn't make a difference when it comes to the body movements that come with goaltending."

While not concerned, Holtby still realizes the importance of getting game reps which is why he is wasting no time getting into the lineup and he said he wanted to play in Saturday's game.

Said Holtby, "I wanted to get back as soon as I could, get on the ice and make sure I could use all the time I can."

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