World waiting for Tiger to return: Clubmate Atwal

December 6th, 2008 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS) The golfing world is eagerly awaiting the return of Tiger Woods, says his clubmate at Orlando’s Isleworth Golf Club Arjun Atwal, who is all set to take on the world’s best on the coveted PGA Tour 2009 starting next month.Looking fit and relaxed after a nice year-end break, Atwal is ready for a month’s grind at the range and putting green before he goes to Hawaii for the start of the new season.

On the fact that he is friendly to Tiger, Atwal said: “He is an awesome guy. At the club, he is just like a regular guy and is not like the best player in the world or something. The world of golf, and maybe whole of sporting world wants him back as quickly as possible and that he recovers from his knee replacements.”

“He is always helpful. At the club (Isleworth), there is also Mark O’Meara. All of us tell each other what we see in others and help improve - not that guys like me can help improve Tiger,” a smiling Atwal said on the sidelines of the third NCR Cup and the Delhi State Championships here Saturday.

Talking of his own game, Atwal added: “After the last two events in Singapore and Hong Kong, by which time I was tired I was looking for a break with the family. I am off tonight to Orlando, where over next four to five weeks I will get back to work and be ready for the PGA Tour.”

Asked about his plans for the 2009 PGA, he said: “I have set certain goals, which frankly I want to keep to myself for the time being. I want to try and win first on the PGA Tour and make some good money in the first few months to ease the pressure.”

Atwal earned his passage back to the world’s most coveted Tour, PGA, with a win at the Chattanooga Classic that helped him finish 17th on the Nationwide Money list - from where the top-25 get to the main Tour.

“The Nationwide Tour is the toughest Tour in the world. It has a lot of young hopefuls straight out of college and a lot of others, including those like me, who failed to keep the card. They are all hungry to get back to the main Tour. So it really toughens you,” said Atwal.

“I have played just two seasons on PGA Tour in 2004 and 2005. In 2005 (he missed just one cut in 17 starts) despite a conditional, I kept my card. That year I lost in a five-way play-off to Phil Mickelson in Bell South Classic.

“Then in 2006 at Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, I missed a seven footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, which would have got me into a play-off with the eventual winner Tiger Woods, Jose Maria Olazabal and Nathan Green. That played on my mind for a while.”

In 2006, Atwal went through a series of missed cuts he fell out of top-125 in the tour and failed to retain his card. Then in 2007, he played on the Nationwide Tour and finished on the line at 60th as his mind was occupied by the car accident case, which finally closed this year.

In 2008, after starting well, he slackened off till the win at the Chattanooga Classic ensured his return to the PGA Tour.

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