Feb 27, 2020: Arjun Atwal chipped in for an eagle in a play-off and won. It was not for a title but a spot into the $7 million Honda Classic on the PGA Tour this week. The Honda Classic has the toughest Monday Qualifier on the PGA Tour; so much so some even call as the “Super Bowl” of Monday qualifiers in golf because it comes only once a year!
Atwal finished his final round in Puerto Rico on Sunday and took a flight out to Florida to play the Monday Qualifier.
He shot 67, while three others had 66 each and there were four spots. Canada’s Adam Svensson also shot 67, so there was a play-off. Atwal chipped in for an eagle and grabbed the last spot.
Monday Qualifiers are a really long shot at getting into a tournament, let alone win it. The entry costs $ 450 and a lot of heartbreaks. This year there were 458 starters for Pre-qualifiers and the Final Qualifier and only four spots were available.
But Atwal loves the adrenaline, he once said. In 2010, he won a Monday Qualifier for Wyndham Championship and became only the third man since 1986 to win a tournament through that route.
Kenny Knox did it at Honda Classic in 1986; Fred Wadsworth did the same at Southern Open the same year; and Atwal did I tin 2010 at Wyndham. Last year Corey Conners joined the exclusive club by ‘Monday Qualifying’ and winning Texas Open.
Atwal has a thing for Monday Qualifiers. After the 2010 Wyndham success, he came through a Monday Qualifier again last year at 3M Open and was in contention for first two days – he was fourth and seventh and still in Top-10 after 54 holes before slipping to T-23 on Sunday. Rookie Matthew Wolff won his maiden title.
This year’s Honda Classic Monday Qualifier had 13 different PGA TOUR winners, including Atwal at Banyan Cay. The players, from more than a dozen different countries, had a combined 23 European Tour wins and 41 Korn Ferry Tour wins. The field’s total PGA TOUR earnings was in excess of $212 million.
The names included the likes of Tour winners, Jonathan Byrd, David Lingmerth and Atwal; veteran Australians John Senden and Robert Allenby; 2016 Olympian Seamus Power of Ireland; and Arnold Palmer’s grandson Sam Saunders.
Atwal, 46, born in Asansol, India went to College in the US and turned pro in 1995. He has one PGA Tour win – the only one ever by an Indian – besides three European Tour and eight Asian Tour wins. He also has a win on the Korn Ferry Tour. He was Asian Tour No. 1 in 2003.
Not every event has a Monday qualifiers – THE PLAYERS Championship, the four majors, the World Golf Championships events, the FedExCup Playoffs or invitation-only events don’t have any qualifiers.
But when there is one, there is a good chance that Atwal, if he is not already in the field, will be there to have a go.