TAM­ING TIGER

Ar­jun At­wal gets the best of prac­tice part­ner Tiger Woods in the first round of the AT&T Na­tional

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

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.

Michael Bryant

Ar­jun At­wal shares the lead at the AT&T Na­tional with three other play­ers, in­clud­ing Austin res­i­dent Joe Ogilvie.

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