Atwal tied 50th in Panasonic Open golfSeptember 25th, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS
Osaka, Sep 25 (IANS) Indian golfer Arjun Atwal, stopping in Asia during a two-week break on the Nationwide Tour in the US, opened the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open with an even par 70 at the Ibaraki Country Club’s West Course here Friday. Atwal was tied for the 50th place while his compatriot Rahil Gangjee shot a three-over 73 and was lying way behind in 89th place.
Japan’s Kaname Yokoo fired a blistering eight-under-par 62 to grab the first round lead while Chinese star Liang Wen-chong headed the chasing pack with a 64.
AsiaTour No. 1 in 2003 Atwal, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open this season, carded 70, despite losing a ball on the back nine. Atwal played the first round with Japanese golf legend Jumbo Ozaki and Shigeki Maruyama.
“It’s good to be back but I’ve been getting up at three every morning because of the jet lag. I played with Jumbo Ozaki and Shigeki Maruyama this morning, which was a good pairing and I enjoyed it. My driver was a bit off and I lost a ball on the back nine off a drive which was just slightly offline. There wasn’t any rough up there and there were like 15 people walking with us but no one saw where the ball ended up. I had to reload and ended up with a bogey there,” said Atwal.
“I’m slated to play the last four events on the Nationwide Tour and then come back for the Barclays Singapore Open, UBS Hong Kong Open, take a week off and then play the last three events on the Asian Tour. If I get close to the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit in Hong Kong, then I’ll play in all the remaining events as I would like to have the chance to win the Order of Merit title again,” he said.
On his current status on Nationwide, Atwal added, “I’m presently 34th on the money list there and nearly $20,000 behind the 25th ranked player, which is the cut mark to earn a PGA Tour card. One top-five finish and I’m in the PGA Tour again. The Nationwide Tour Championship is a $1 million event so I’ve got a good chance of regaining my US card and basically have four shots at it.”
Yokoo, a five-time winner in Japan but looking to end a two-year title drought, was flawless as he posted eight birdies to lead by two shots from reigning Asian Tour number one Liang, who returned a 64.
Australia’s Marcus Both also carded a 64 after enjoying a flying start with three birdies and eagle in his first five holes at the $1.85 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Mark Brown of New Zealand was amongst those bunched on 66. He was relieved to enjoy a timely return to form and also basked in the warm weather of Asia after a stint in Europe.
Former US Open champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina shot a 68 while American Fred Couples opened with a 70. Local teenage sensation Ryo Ishikawa struggled to a 76.