Impressive start for Arjun Atwal in the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Arjun Atwal (70) shot five birdies in the first round at the Detroit Golf Club. Doc Redman, Scott Stallings and Kevin Kisner enjoy a one-stroke lead at 65

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Arjun Atwal - File Photo

Lean, mean and hungry. Arjun Atwal is eager to make the most of a sponsor’s exemption as he attempts his rediscover some of his best golf, fueled by renewed commitment and a well balanced diet. The 47-year-old Indian showed some spectacular skills, as he worked his way to a 70 in the opening round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Doc Redman, Scott Stallings and Kevin Kisner were tied for the lead at seven-under 65. Peter Malnati, Emiliano Grillo, Chase Seiffert, J. J. Spaun, Matt Wallace, Bryson DeChambeau and Chris Stroud were behind the leaders at 66.

Atwal has always been known for his impeccable ability to navigate around the greens. He showed some vintage touch on Thursday, making a slick putt from 21 feet on the 10th hole. It was his third birdie in seven holes, after making a five on the par-4 second hole.

Atwal hit 10 of the 14 fairways in the opening round as well as 12 of 18 greens in regulation. At the par-4 second, he reached the green in three and needed two putts to move forward. On the 635yds par-5 fourth hole, Atwal worked his way from the left of the fairway to produce a nice approach that left him just 11 feet for his first birdie on the day. He also took advantage of the par-5 7th hole, reaching the green in three before doing the business with a six-footer for birdie.

“I made some nice putts and then missed some really short ones,” said Arjun. “And then I holed an impossible bunker shot on the 15th. It was a weird round.”

“But I had a great hole out from a bunker almost 40 feet away for a birdie on Par-3 15th. That bunker hole out was pretty special as I couldn’t see the green or see the ball go in,” added Atwal.

“Sure I left a lot of shots, missed some small ones, but also made a few long putts. I guess a bit of rust. But I will take this considering how long I have not played.”

After making the brilliant putt from distance on the 10th, Atwal three-putted on the next hole, missing from 6 feet, trying to make par on the hole. He made amends on the 13th hole, reaching the green in two before making an eleven footer for another birdie. Atwal left himself short off the green on the 160-yard par-3 15th, only to hole a mind numbing shot off the greenside bunker for his final birdie on the day. Unfortunately, the Indian was forced to bleed a stroke on the 18th, where he reached the green in three before taking two putts for a closing bogey.

PGA TOUR Notes

  • Bryson DeChambeau (T4/-6) leads the field in Driving Distance (358.3 yards) and Strokes Gained: Putting (3.964)
  • Rocket Mortgage ambassador Rickie Fowler (T11/-5) makes seven birdies to shoot 67; entered the week with missed cuts in each of his two starts since the season resumed
  • Defending champion Nate Lashley stands T87 after an opening 71
  • Wyndham Clark (during his round) and Talor Gooch (after his round) both withdrew due to back injuries

Leading Asian Scores

Seung-Yul Noh                  68 (-4)

KH Lee                                69 (-3)

Sungjae Im                        70 (-2)

Arjun Atwal                       70 (-2)

Hole statistics

              Toughest hole                   Easiest hole

R1          Par-4 18th (4.263)               Par-5 17th (4.513)

Scoring Averages

              Front 9                 Back 9                  Total                    Cumulative

R1          34.968                  35.199                  70.167                  —

Bogey-free rounds

R1 (13): Kevin Kisner (65), Emiliano Grillo (66), Peter Malnati (66), George McNeill (67), Henrik Norlander (67), Seamus Power (67), Adam Schenk (68), Tyrrell Hatton (68), Troy Merritt (68), Seung-Yul Noh (68), Zack Sucher (69), Josh Teater (70), Bo Van Pelt (70)