Detroit, Michigan, July 5: Arjun Atwal put on a master class as he drove well and was dialled in with his approaches in the third round for a six-under 66 in Rocket Mortgage Classic. At one stage he went from the cut line to shared lead for a very brief period. Atwal (68-69-66) is now 11-under.
Atwal’s first reaction was, “A pity it had to finish like that with a three-putt, just like the start. That’s three three-putts this week and two in a single day.” His three-putts came on first and 18th.
When he finished Atwal was Tied-4th but later as the others teed off and took advantage of a low-scoring day, which coincided with the American Independence Day, Atwal ended T-18 after 54 holes.
The day’s best came from Matthew Wolff (64) who leads at 19-under by three shots over Ryan Armour (67) and Bryson DeChambeau (67).
Troy Merritt (67), Mark Hubbard (69), Seamus Power (69) and Chris Kirk (70) were five shots back. Webb Simpson (71) had a bogey on the final hole, to go six shots behind.
The 47-year-old Atwal started by missing a five-footer for par. After that he had six birdies and a brilliant eagle on seventh with a 312-yard drive followed by a great second shot to inside10 feet. His run included birdie-eagle-birdie from the sixth to the eighth hole.
After the second day Atwal said that he found ‘something’ in his hitting. It worked and he missed just three fairways and found 16 of the 18 greens.
He added, “A couple of weeks ago, I hurt myself in the ribs, while doing weights. I did play nine holes with friends but I stopped because I did not feel great. So past two weeks before coming here I barely lifted a club. On Friday, I realised I needed to make some adjustments like standing tall over the shot so it would not hurt and a couple of other technical things. I spent 15 minutes on it and I knew I had it.”
He added, “I hit well but didn’t putt too well, though I holed some big ones. That putt on 18 from 60 feet had so many ups and downs and twists and the speed was 14. I hit it well but was 10-12 feet short. The second putt stopped at the top of the lip. That hurt.”
On his goal, he said, “I like to have some numbers in the head. I was looking at 13 under, so a good final round could see me close to 20-under.”
On his fitness, he said, “I am feeling great in terms of fitness. When I came back at the start of the year from India, I was like 205 pounds. Working on my fitness was my goal for the year. Eating well, working out, weights; no alcohol and so on. I came down to 185, which is what I was in my first season on PGA in 2004.”
“I’m still trying to shake off the rust as well. I haven’t walked because when I’m playing at home, it’s mainly in carts. At my age, it’s tough walking so much but it’s fine. Body is feeling great except for my feet – they are killing (blisters) me – as I’ve not worn golf shoes and walked for so long,” he said with a big laugh. ”Other than that I feel great. I don’t feel tired, I feel strong and feel good.”
After a bogey start, Atwal hit his approach on third to 13 feet for a birdie. He parred the Par-5 fourth and Par-3 fifth. He was on fire from the sixth, hitting his approach to inside 10 feet for a birdie, followed by a superb eagle and then a 12-foot birdie on eighth at which stage he was four-under for the day.
On the back nine after two pars, he hit his approach inside 10 feet for another birdie on 12th. He safely two-putted from 40 feet on 13thand then another great approach on Par-5 14thfetched him his fifth birdie of the day. A massive 24-foot birdie on 17thmeant he was four-under for Par-5s alone, with an eagle and two birdies. He was seven-under when he came to the 18th. He reached the far end of the green in two but three-putted from 60 feet for bogey.
“(For Sunday) There is no plan as such, but I know I can go really low,” said Atwal, knowing a Top-10 can fetch him a spot next week. “I am not thinking about that.”
No less than 62 of the 70 players, who made the cut, scored par or better.