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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Capitals send Chandler Stephenson back to Hershey after brief call-up

Capitals send Chandler Stephenson back to Hershey after brief call-up

The Capitals have re-assigned forward Chandler Stephenson to AHL Hershey after a brief call-up to the NHL, the team announced Tuesday.

Stephenson, 22, was recalled on Saturday as a precaution and was a healthy scratch for the team's games on Sunday and Monday.

Washington has been playing with the minimum of 12 forwards at home. With the Caps facing a quick turnaround with a game in Washington on Sunday and in Pittsburgh on Monday, the team needed a spare forward in case of an emergency to ensure the team had someone to plug into the lineup if there was an injury.

The Caps returned home after Monday's game in Pittsburgh and have Tuesday off making carrying Stephenson unnecessary. He may be back very soon, however, as the team will almost certainly call up another player prior to leaving for Thursday's game in St. Louis.

In Hershey, Stephenson has scored 23 points this season in 36 games. He played in nine games with the Caps in 2015-16.

RELATED: Prediction recap: Defense was optional in Pittsburgh

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Prediction recap: Defense was optional in Pittsburgh on Monday

Prediction recap: Defense was optional in Pittsburgh on Monday

It was crazy, it was controversial and unfortunately for the Caps, it was a loss. Washington saw its nine-game win streak come to an end on Monday in a crazy 8-7 overtime loss to the Penguins.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions.

1. Washington will not score on the power play - Wrong

Defense was optional on Monday so it is perhaps not surprising that one of the Caps’ seven goals came on the power play. T.J. Oshie struck in the third period to make the score 7-6. More on that later.

RELATED: Williams calls the Caps' loss 'a reality check'

2. Pittsburgh will score three goals or more - More right than I expected

I thought four, maybe five goals on Monday. I didn’t expect eight. You see one of these games every once in awhile where everything just seems to find the back of the net and this was definitely one of them. Things in professional sports always tend to even out. The Caps had four shutouts in six games and were due to allow some goals, I just didn’t expect it to catch up with them all of them in one game.

3. T.J. Oshie will have a multi-point night - Correct

With seven goals, it would have been hard for me to miss on this one. Oshie had three points including his power play goal in the third period for a three-point night.

2017 Results: I finally had a good night with predictions and it was Washington’s first loss in ten games. I’m guessing most readers are going to be rooting against me the next few weeks.

Correct: 7
Wrong: 20
Push: 0

MORE CAPITALS: Caps' win streak snapped in crazy loss to Penguins