Arjun Atwal gets the best of practice partner Tiger Woods in the first round of the AT&T National
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — In the five years Arjun Atwal has been playing practice rounds with Tiger Woods at home in Florida, he learned long ago to stop comparing himself with the world’s No. 1 player.
There was no comparison Thursday in the AT&T National.
Atwal made seven birdies in his round of 4-under-par 66 and was in a four-way tie for the lead at Aronimink Golf Club. Woods threw away five shots over the last five holes and opened with a 3-over 73, making it a challenge today just to make the cut.
“It was a very frustrating day on the greens, especially how good I was driving it,” Woods said.
“I was driving it on a string all day. I keep hitting it like this, I’ll be fine. The putts will start going in.”
Atwal had no such complaints after finding himself atop the leaderboard with Austin’s Joe Ogilvie, Nick Watney and Byron Nelson winner Jason Day on a tough day at Aronimink, where the pin locations made it difficult to attack the flags.
Playing on a sponsor’s exemption — spending so much time with Woods has its perks — Atwal recovered from a bogey on his opening hole with three straight birdies, all of them inside 12 feet, and kept the mistakes to a minimum.
“Four under, I think, is a great score for me or anybody on this course,” Atwal said. “I’ll take it every day.”
Atwal grew up playing Royal Calcutta in his native India and was the first Indian to win on the European Tour in 2002.
He also made news when a man trying to race him down an Orlando street died in a crash. Atwal was cleared of any wrongdoing, although the investigation lasted a year and took an emotional toll.
Arjun Atwal shares the lead at the AT&T National with three other players, including Austin resident Joe Ogilvie.