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.
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.
— Arjun Atwal (@Arjunatwal) December 21, 2014
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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