Top 5 To Watch: 2013 AT&T National

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Top Five For The AT&T National

AT&T National Top Five
Debby Wong - USA TODAY Sports

A couple weeks removed now from the U.S. Open at Merion, the PGA Tour rolls into Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland this week for the AT&T National. Even though the event will be without tournament host and defending champion Tiger Woods, the tournament is sure to be an exciting test featuring many of golf’s stars.

Woods, whose foundation is the tournament’s primary charity partner, is at Congressional this week, even though he won’t be playing again until the Open Championship at Muirfield in July. Still, on hand to meet several of the children working with the Tiger Woods Foundation, Woods has stated that he’d like to see his tournament as one of the most difficult on Tour, one where “if you shot two or three under par each day, you’d be in the lead”.

Woods might just get that wish. Measuring in at an impressive 7,569 yards, Congressional is the second longest-regular Tour stop, behind only Torrey Pines, site of the Farmers Insurance Open. That kind of length, combined with some tight fairways and unfriendly greens, had players in last year’s event shooting an average of just over 73 on the par-71 track. Not exactly the type of place you’ll be seeing players reach the -15 or lower mark with anything but the most masterful performances.

So who are the favorites this week? The field will include five of the top 10 in the FedEx Cup, eight of the top 30 in the Official World Ranking, and 11 winners on the PGA Tour this year (minus Justin Rose following his withdrawal). Without further delay, here are my top five for the week.

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5) Brandt Snedeker

JD Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

Brandt Snedeker’s been something of an enigma since his injury – it’s almost impossible to predict what he’s going to do from week to week. I prefer to look at the positive, and the two top 10s and the solid weekend at Merion are enough to convince me that Snedeker can compete for a title at Congressional. Ranked 16th in driving accuracy, 17th in GIR, and fourth in the all-around ranking, it should only be a matter of time until Snedeker wins again. This just might be his week.

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4) Adam Scott

JD Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

Congressional is only Adam Scott’s fourth start since his Masters victory, and he’s coming off a T45 at Merion. Still, his third place finish here last year shows he knows his way around the course. He has a knack for finding fairways and sinking putts at just the right time, so Scott should be a solid bet to contend this week.

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3) Billy Horschel

Eileen Blass - USA TODAY Sports

It’s right back on the Billy Horschel bandwagon for me this week. Back-to-back to-10 finishes have him coming in confident and on top of his game. Ranked 17th on the Tour in strokes gained putting and fifth in both par-4 and par-5 scoring, Horschel will find some serious success at Congressional if he can keep doing what's made him great all year.

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2) Hunter Mahan

David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Mahan seems to be inching closer and closer to that elusive victory. Mahan has been in the top 15 here in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012. Earlier this year, he finished T15 at Torrey Pines, the only course longer than Congressional on the schedule. Mahan currently ranks fifth in total driving and 29th in total putting.

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1) Jason Day

Matthew O'Haren - USA TODAY Sports

If you read my column earlier this week, you already know why I think Jason Day will be successful here. He found himself in contention at the U.S. Open in his last start, finishing tied for second. His game seems to be an excellent fit for Congressional, with a T8 last year and the solo second behind Rory McIlroy in the 2011 U.S. Open. This year, he ranks 21st in strokes gained putting and fourth in sand saves. While there's no such thing as a sure thing in golf, Day has to be the favorite to take down the AT&T National.