Flawless Atwal has putting woes, stays in title hunt on Nationwide

June 22nd, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Knoxville (Tennessee), June 22 (IANS) A series of missed putts through the day saw Arjun Atwal return with just a four-under 68 in the third round of the Knoxville Open on the Nationwide Tour Saturday. Atwal was bogey-free for the second day in three rounds, but far too many putts lipped out or stopped frustratingly short by millimeters, despite amazing driving and iron play that kept him tied sixth. He started and finished the day at sixth, but was still in the hunt for his maiden title in the US.

Former Asian Tour No. 1 Atwal’s 68 saw him move to 12-under 204 and was one of the dozen players within four shots of the lead on a crowded leaderboard on what was the longest day of the year and the first full day of summer in Tennessee.

Atwal had four birdies and no bogeys. This was his second bogey-free round in three days.

Interestingly, the leader was former Asian Tour regular, Jarrod Lyle, who was on the top at 16-under 200 following a second straight 67. Lyle, who has already won once on Nationwide Tour this year, was one shot clear of D.J. Brigman (68).

With the possibility of thunderstorms forcing an early tee off and early finish, Atwal had two birdies each on either side of the turn. He birdied the first and fifth and then tenth and 17th, but missed a bunch of birdies out there. He reached 94 percent greens regulation and just missed but still scrambled to a par on it.

Atwal, who was the No.1 putter on US Tour three years ago, will need to ensure he does not fritter chances to have a shot at the title which will bring him a step closer to getting back to the main PGA Tour next year.

Ultimately, the expected storms did not arrive but Lyle, the Mexico Open winner earlier this year, stormed to the lead with a 5-under 67. Lyle is one ahead of Brigman who birdied the last hole and shot 70. Both Lyle and Brigman had co-incidentally played together for a round at the US Open last week.

Chris Kirk and Thomas Hagler IV are tied for third at 14-under with seven players, including Atwal, tied for sixth.

Lyle, playing in the final pairing with overnight leader Brigman, took the lead with a birdie at the ninth hole when Brigman bogeyed. Lyle added consecutive birdies at the 10th and 11th holes and never looked back.

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