BETHESDA - The last time Roberto Castro held the first-round lead in a PGA Tour event he took himself right out of contention at the Players Championship with an embarrassing 78.
He thinks he'll be better prepared today, as he takes a two-stroke lead into the second round of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club.
"In that tournament there was a lot of hoopla," the little-known Castro said. "The Players gets a lot of media coverage. The Golf Channel interviewed my little brother on Friday morning.
"There's a lot going on here, but it was a different level of circus that week."
Castro, who has just one top-10 finish in his two years on tour, made three birdies in a row late in his round for a 5-under 66 on Thursday, two better than Bud Cauley, Billy Horschel and Graham DeLaet.
With world No. 1 and defending champion Tiger Woods reduced to a hosting role by an elbow injury and tired U.S. Open champion Justin Rose withdrawing on Monday, the AT&T field includes only three of the top 20 players in the world rankings.
Which left Castro to head a fairly anonymous leaderboard.
So who is Roberto Castro? Well, he's a 28-year-old graduate of Georgia Tech. His dream foursome would include John Lennon. His favorite movie is "There Will Be Blood." He loves chocolate, and he roots for the Atlanta Falcons.
He's best known in golf circles for shooting 63 to tie the course record and take the first-round lead at this year's Players. He said that round and Thursday's didn't compare.
"They were totally different rounds," Castro said. "The one at Sawgrass I hit it three feet [from the hole] eight or nine times. The one today was a normal lower round where I made some putts."
Some more familiar names are near the top of the leaderboard.
Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker were among those in a tie for fifth at 2 under. Jason Dahy and Vijay Singh were in a group another stroke back. Rickie Fowler and last week's breakthrough winner Ken Duke were both at even-par 71.
Masters winner Adam Scott shot 73 and will likely have to do better today just to make the cut. He wasn't the only major champion to struggle. Lucas Glover shot 72. Y.E. Yang and Ben Curtis each shot 74. Justin Leonard had 78. And Davis Love III carded an 83 and promptly withdrew.
Until Castro got hot late in his round it seemed that Congressional was going to be the winner on Thursday.
"It's not easy. It's like another U.S. Open," said Horschel, who tied for fourth in that event two weeks ago at Merion. "You don't usually see first round scores on a PGA Tour event only be 3 under leading after the morning wave. ... The tougher the golf course, the better I like it."
"I felt like I played well - only one bogey on my card," he said. "It was just a long, hard golf course."
Not for Castro.
He started his day on the back nine and began par-bogey. But he birdied the next two holes and followed with five straight pars. After making the turn he birdied No. 1 to pull within one stroke of the lead.
Then, he reeled off consecutive birdies at the fifth, sixth and seventh to leapfrog Horschel & Co. and into the lead by himself. He made a spectacular par save on the eighth and narrowly missed a short birdie putt on the par-5 ninth to finish his round.
"My goal today was to play aggressive," Castro said. "I'll try to do that again tomorrow."
And he'll try not to shoot 78.