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.
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 make a brilliant chip to the target from 13 yards 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.