Atwal’s PGA Tour win hailed in India

The praise is already being heaped on Arjun Atwal, who became

India’s first PGA Tour winner with his victory at the Wyndham

Championship.

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.