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Golf: Atwal finishes tied 4th

None | ByPress Trust of India, San Diego (usa)
Jan 30, 2006 01:07 PM IST

The Indian came close to winning his maiden PGA title, but finished tied fourth in the Buick Invitational.

Arjun Atwal came tantalizingly close to winning his maiden PGA Tour title, but in the end finished tied fourth after missing three close putts in the last three holes of the $5.4 million Buick Invitational at the Torrey Pines.

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Atwal (71) missed a four-footer on the closing 18th and was shut out of the three-way play-off which was won by Tiger Woods, who himself birdied the 18th to get into extra time.

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Atwal, former Asian Tour No. 1, was among the few who shot under-par scores on all four days with 70, 67, 71 and 71 for a total of nine-under 279, and just one shy of the trio, Woods, Nathan Green and Jose Maria Olazabal, who at 10-under 278, figured in the shoot-out for title.

"It was very disappointing to come so close and not make it," said Atwal, who last year lost a play-off to Phil Mickelson in the BellSouth Classic. "I missed a birdie on the 16 th, when the ball stopped in the jaw, when I thought it was going in fine, then on 17th, I missed another makeable putt, and then again on the 18th, which I three-putted, I missed from four feet."

Atwal birdied the eighth and ninth and looked fine at ten-under, but the bogey on 12th pulled him back and then he missed out on getting into the play-off.

Atwal, in his third season on the US PGA Tour, shared fourth spot with American trio of Jonathan Kaye, John Rollins and Lucas Glover. Through the last two days, Atwal was bothered by the greens, and the man with 2005's best putting statistics said, "The greens were not good at all. They were bumpy and had patches. All of us had problems." 

"Things look fine and I am happy with the way I am playing. I will play next two weeks and then think of a small break," said Atwal, who with $256,668 is now 16th on the money list.

Daniel Chopra with a final round 76 was tied 56th after having been tied fifth after two rounds.

Woods first holed an 8-foot birdie on the 18th hole to get into a three-way playoff, then won the title with simple pars as Australian rookie Nathan Green and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal erred in the play-off. Olazabal played a great bunker shot on the par-3 16th on the second extra hole at Torrey Pines, then missed a 4-foot par putt to hand Woods the victory.

For Woods, it was the fourth time in 10 years that he won in his first PGA Tour event of the year, and he became the first four-time winner at the Buick Invitational on a course he played regularly as a kid. It was an amazing day with a really tight finish. As many as 12 players had a share of the lead at one point and there was an eight-way tie with six holes to play.

Woods, who three-putted three times in his final round of even-par 72, finally made the one that mattered on the final hole of regulation en route to his 47th Tour victory. In regulation play, Lucas Glover had a 65-foot eagle putt on the 18th that was headed for the center of the cup, but stopped just short.

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