Former Asia No1 Arjun Atwal ends long wait for glory to claim Dubai Open

Joy Chakravarty 23:25 21/12/2014
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Ahead of his class: India's Arjun Atwal, former winner on the PGA Tour, clinched victory at the inaugural Dubai Open by one shot.

Arjun Atwal has an achievement on his CV very few golfers can boast of – he is a winner on the PGA Tour. And yet, he had no hesitation in putting his win at the inaugural Dubai Open on the same pedestal as the 2010 Wyndham Championship.

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The $500,000 Asian Tour event may not compare to Atwal’s several big wins in the past, but it ended a frustrating wait of more than four years to get back into the winner’s circle for the former Asia No1.

In a dramatic turn of events at The Els Club on Sunday, the 41-year-old from Kolkata, who is now a resident of Celebration, Orlando, birdied the last hole for a final-round five-under par 67 to beat 19-year-old Korean Wang Jeung-hun by one shot.

Atwal, who lost his card on every major tour following two horrendous year during which he struggled with a debilitating back and knee injury, finished on 16-under par 272. The win gives him a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour and the winning cheque of $90,000 also moves him to 25th in the final 2014 Order of Merit.
Scotsman Simon Yates took third place following a 68.

 

Wang led Atwal by three shots after a birdie on the 10th hole, but the experience of the seven-time Asian Tour winner showed as he first narrowed the gap with three birdies on a trot from the 13th hole onwards, and then capitalized on two mistakes in the last two holes by his rival.

With Atwal making a bogey on the 17th hole and seemingly out of the contention, Wang three-putted for a bogey to remain just one shot ahead. He lost that advantage with another bogey on the 18th after hitting his three-wood second shot to the native area in the right, from where he took another four shots to finish the hole.

When asked to compare his 2010 Wyndham win with this, a delighted Atwal said: “Actually, it’s just as good. I can’t believe I’m saying that, considering it was my lifetime goal to win on the PGA Tour.

“I think it’s maybe even a greater feeling today. Because the way things went the last two years, there was a time when I didn’t think I would play again or compete again.  Especially when I had the back injury and the hip injury. I could not even walk properly. So, yeah, it’s something else right now.”

Atwal admitted he felt like the tournament was handed over to him by Wang, saying: “It was like just more relief than anything else that the day is over. I was feeling a little bit with my nerves but it was a gift today. I haven’t won a tournament like this where someone has actually gifted it to me. I got lucky.”

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