The AT&T National is a relatively young tournament by PGA Tour standards, being held for the first time in 2007. While the tournament is one of only five on the tour with "invitational" status, it has gained a strong following thanks to myriad factors. The event is "hosted" by PGA great Tiger Woods, and the proceeds from the event go to fund his charity, The Tiger Woods Foundation. The tournament is held each year around the Fourth of July at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, which is only a short drive away from Washington, D.C. The event's combination of the governmental elite and holiday crowds makes it one of the most popular events on the PGA calendar.
As a tournament with invitational status, the field is far more exclusive and competitive than events with "Open" status, which helps to narrow the group of golfers down to about 120 participants. The event replaced the now-defunct The International, and the PGA quickly replaced the tournament to keep a professional golfing exhibition in the nation's capital. Although the AT&T National took a quick reprieve in 2010-11 to play at Aronimik Country Club in Pennsylvania, the tournament will be returning to the Congressional for the 2012 exhibition.
The Congressional Country Clubs is the ideal site for an invitational tournament and has hosted various Majors like the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. The course is considered one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour, with rolling terrain, wide greens and tree-lined fairways. Water hazards are a major issue on the course, with the 18th hole being a daunting task for any professional golfer. Situated on a par-3 with a small peninsula surrounded by a large lake, the hole's humble distance belies its true difficulty.
Since the AT&T National got its start, the field has been highly competitive and has resulted in a different winner each year. KJ Choi and Anthony Kim won the first two events, while Tiger Woods won his signature tournament in 2009. Justin Rose and Nick Watney would win the successive tournaments, which helped propel Watney to the top of the FedEx Cup standings in 2011. All of the past champions figure to be big competitors in this year's event, which finally makes its triumphant return to the Washington, D.C. area to the delight of PGA fans in the region.