Excellence is a fine art that comes with endless hours of repetition and attention to nuance. But producing it under the gun is the preserve of the extra-ordinary, men and women that possess the faculties needed to spring back to life even from hopeless despair. After a 73 in the opening round, Arjun Atwal found himself four strokes adrift from the cut line. On Friday, he clutched on the frail threads of a hanging bridge to climb back with the determination of a wounded soldier battling for pride and honour.
His limbs may no longer be supple. Recovery often takes longer than the duration of his adventure. But then, Atwal lives in a space where the spirit is cast in steel and the mind is sharp. The resolute Indian put on a display of sheer resolve and character, as he marched through the TPC Twin Cities course with a single purpose. Make the cut, irrespective of the gradient of hardship.
Atwal accomplished just that, with a monk-like round that took him to edge and back, but never quite succeeded to break his will.
At the top of the leaderboard, Richy Werenski (67) was joined by Michael Thompson (66), the two men going into the weekend at 12-under 130. Tony Finau continued his good run with a 66, lying in T3 with Talor Gooch who shot 65, one behind the leaders. Scott Stallings climbed 70 spots with a stellar 64 in the second round.
Atwal’s leap of faith took him from 120th to 51st, into the weekend on the number at 2-under 140. Atwal made five birdies and was even sitting in the shade of comfort when he was 3-under through 15 holes.
Atwal overcooked his approach on the 16th, needing three to reach the green, conceding his only bogey on the day. He also made a crucial par save on the 17th, where he flirted with sand. But the highlight of his round was not the 20 footer he made for birdie on the 7th, but the imagination with which he rescued par on the final hole to punch his ticket into the weekend.
After finding the water with his tee shot on the par-5 18th, Atwal sailed over water with a brilliant 259 yard third shot. That left him a little more than 35 feet to the cup, a nice reward for a risky stroke under intense pressure. Atwal chose to fly over the pond instead of safely going around it, along the fairway on the left.
‘It really was one hell of a shot under the circumstances. I hit a 3-wood into a 20mph left-to-right wind to left-back pin from 256y! Almost made a birdie there!!” exclaimed a delighted Atwal.
Atwal was also at the receiving end of news that he shall play in the Wyndham Championship later in the season. The tournament confirmed this on their social media platforms.
Meanwhile Sahith Theegala shot a second straight 72 to miss the cut, despite a decent outing in the 3M Open. Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood also missed the cut.