The praise is already being heaped on Arjun Atwal, who became
India’s first PGA Tour winner with his victory at the Wyndham
Atwal finished at 20-under 260 to win by one stroke at
Sedgefield Country Club on Sunday and earn $918,000 – more than
double the amount he previously won this year.
Atwal also became the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA
Tour in 24 years.
”(It’s) undoubtedly the biggest thing to happen to Indian
golf,” said Indian veteran Gaurav Ghei, who became the first
Indian to qualify for the British Open in 1997. ”(It’s) an
achievement that most of us never even dreamt of.”
But Ghei recalled that Atwal had always aimed for it.
”I do remember Atwal saying that he wanted to win on the PGA
Tour. Hats off to him for sticking it out in the U.S. on his own
and doing it,” added the 42-year-old Ghei, who has won three Asian
Tour titles since turning pro in 1991. ”It was a proud moment to
see the Indian flag flying high. I hope this acts as a springboard
for the game here.”
Brandon De Souza, who has organized a majority of the golf
tournaments in India over the past two decades, called it a
conquering of the ”last frontier.”
”Indians had already won on the Asian, European and Japanese
Tours, but this is a new high,” De Souza said. ”I hope the
government and sponsors realize the enormity of this achievement
and think beyond cricket.”
Upcoming player Gaganjeet Bhullar felt the face of Indian golf
was likely to change with Atwal’s victory as it could result in
more exemptions for players.
”It could change the careers of Indian golfers and the way we
look at the game. With Indians doing well on other circuits, it was
long overdue and comes as a welcome relief for us,” said the
22-year-old Bhullar, who plays on the Asian Tour. ”I saw the match
live on television and was thrilled at the way he managed a par on
the last hole.”
Atwal, who has been plagued with injuries over the last year,
gets a two-year berth on the PGA Tour with Sunday’s victory.