ARJUN ATWAL plays at the same club as the world No. 1 Tiger Woods He may not hang around with Tiger, but has built a relationship good enough to ask the winner of 13 Majors for any help to iron out problems.
Struck down by a bad back and then poor form and finally a car accident that led to investigation, in which he was finally cleared last month, Atwal has gone through a lot in the last 18 months. "The birth of my second son, Shiva, has been the best thing," he admits. And now comes this win, which is yet to sink.
The win in the Malaysian Open gives him the right to play the Asian and European Tour till the end of 2010.
Excerpts from an interview:
How does it feel?
It hasn't sunk in yet. Right now, I'm in a different world.
The playoff wasn't pretty. After he (Peter Hedblom) hit it in the water, I wanted to hit it anywhere left and I was a little tight on my swing. Pulled it a little bit and got an awful lie in the right and didn't catch it solid and then hit the bunker shot fat. But I somehow got it into the hole. But unfortunately for Peter, he three putted and I made that putt for par on 17.
Is this the end of a chapter in your life?
I think so. To come out of that and win, it's great for me personally.
Tell us a bit about your golf in US?
I belong in the same club as Tiger in Orlando and he's been a big help to me. Just practising with him and watching him work is motivation enough for me. For him to come and help me with my swing and the fitness factor has been really big for me.
How long have you know Tiger?
I've known him since the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic when we played in the final round and he won there.
Did you feel like you had a realistic chance this morning?
No. I've been playing pretty solid the last four weeks but it's been the same thing, I've been in the top-15 and haven't been able to get up the last few weeks. Today, I relaxed right on the first hole and chilled out. By the time I birdied 10 and 11, I looked at the leader board and had a chance.
Were you frustrated that you didn't win in the last five years?
When I got my card on the PGA Tour, I thought I was going to win and then I hurt my back. The last two years have been really frustrating. The end of '06 and whole of 2007 I want to forget.
I want to get my PGA Tour card back.
How do you see golf in India developing?
Jeev, Jyoti, SSP and all these guys are contending and winning. I want to start something for the juniors in India. I've got an outline but I've not shared it with anyone yet. It's going to be free for all kids. But I've got to get the right funding first.