Atwal fires 62 to take charge #ABMO2017

Mauritius, November 30: Arjun Atwal of India fired a superb nine-under-par 62 without playing a practice round to lead by four shots on the first day at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Thursday.

The former Asian Tour number one posted a flawless round highlighted by seven birdies and one eagle to hold a commanding lead over Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, Sebastian Heisele of Germany, Louis de Jager of South Africa and Adilson Da Silva of Brazil at the Heritage Golf Club.Miguel Tabuena

Major champion Louis Oosthuizen and George Coetzee of South Africa, who won this event in 2015, were bunched up in tied sixth place on matching 67s at the €1million (approximately US$1.07 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour.

Atwal, who is the Captain for Team Asia at the 2018 EurAsia Cup, arrived late Wednesday evening after traveling 16 hours via Dubai from Kuala Lumpur where he attended a press conference to announce his team for the match-play event against Europe next year.

The 44-year-old exceeded his own expectations by shooting 31 in each half with the highlight of his day coming on the 14th hole where he sank a huge 25-foot eagle putt. His score of 62 is also the new course record at the Heritage Golf Club.

The 23-year-old Tabuena put on a battling performance and is on a mission to erase the heartbreak of missing out on a second Asian Tour title at the Resorts World Manila Masters three weeks ago where he bogeyed the last hole to miss the play-off.

Did you know?

  • Atwal replaced the course record of 65 set by Coetzee, Jeunghun Wang of Korea, Carlos Pigem of Spain and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark in 2015.
  • The last time Atwal shot a 62 was in the opening round of the 2005 Indonesia Open. The score remains his lowest on the Asian Tour.
  • He took advantage of a hot putter in the opening round where he totalled 26 putts which included 10 one putts.
  • Atwal is an eight-time Asian Tour champion but his last victory was at the 2014 Dubai Open. He also won the Order of Merit in 2003.
  • Atwal holds the distinction as the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour at the 2010 Wyndham Championship.
  • The last time he played at the Heritage course was in 2015 where he missed the cut. He finished tied 27th last year but on a different golf course.
  • Atwal is currently ranked 55th on the Order of Merit. He needs a good result this week to stay inside the top-60 at the end of the 2017 to retain his full Asian Tour card.
  • Tabuena is one of the rising stars on the Asian Tour. He is enjoying a superb 2017 season so far with two tied third results and one tied fifth finish. He won his first Asian Tour title in 2015.
  • He enjoyed a flawless first nine which included an eagle-three on the seventh hole. He traded three birdies against two bogeys on his homeward nine.

    Adilson Da Silva of Brazil

    Adilson Da Silva of Brazil

  • Tabuena missed only two fairways and three greens in regulation. He totalled 29 putts with a three-putt on the 18th hole being the highest. He bogeyed that hole.
  • Da Silva is searching for his first Asian Tour title. He traded seven birdies against two bogeys to give himself a battling chance this week.
  • He enjoyed a career high in 2016 when he was given the honour of striking the first tee shot at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when golf made a return into the programme after 112 years.

“I was tired and I didn’t really expect anything. Sometimes when you don’t expect much, you get a lot out of it.” – Arjun Atwal.

Player interviews:

Arjun Atwal (Ind) – First Round 62 (-9)

I was in Kuala Lumpur the last two days to announce the players in Team Asia for the EurAsia Cup and I had some media activities to do. I had no practice round and straight on the first tee.

I’m pleased and shocked. I took a very long route coming here. I came through Dubai and it took me 16 hours to get here. I was tired and I didn’t really expect anything. Sometimes when you don’t expect much, you get a lot out of it.

I missed two or three fairways but for most of the part I kept the ball in front of me. I played here two years ago but I don’t really remember the course. I made a few putts and every time you want to shoot low, that’s what you have to do.

I found it pretty tough out there but I didn’t make any mistakes and I had a hot putter. The wind was on and off. It wasn’t very gusty. I’m looking forward to some rest and see what happens tomorrow.

It is very important to play a practice round if you haven’t played the course before. It is kind of important but not the end of the world especially for a guy who has played enough golf in his life.

Miguel Tabuena (Phi) – First Round 66 (-5)

I made a terrible error on 17. Three putting is not the best thing to do but I came back strong. I put myself in position to make birdie and I made it. It was a bit gusty today.

I’ve been striking the ball really well the past few weeks but I wasn’t happy with my putting in Hong Kong last week. I changed putter and it is working this week.

You can’t hit it too high here. If you do that, the wind will take it away. This is a thinking golf course. You can’t blink or it will bite you.

I’m really motivated to bounce back from my defeat at the Resorts World Manila Masters three weeks ago. I would be okay if I bogeyed the hole if I was in a bad position but I was in a good position. I made a mental error and it hit me in the gut. I’ve put the defeat behind me and there’s still a lot of golf to be played this week.AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open - Day One

Eagle on the fifth hole: Hit a nine-iron from 171 yards and holed a six feet eagle putt.

Adilson Da Silva (Bra) – First Round 66 (-5)

I didn’t hit the ball that great but I chipped and putt really well. I was really happy on the greens. My chip and putt saved me and that’s how I put a good score together.

It was a nice finish on 18. I didn’t know what to do and in the end I decided to give it a go and hit a good approach to three feet. That helped.

The course and greens are so good. If you can keep the ball in play you can give yourself a lot of chances. The wind slowed down a bit later this afternoon.

This is a beautiful place. It is like playing golf in paradise. The layout of the course is so beautiful and it suits my eye for some reason. I like playing on this golf course and that makes a big difference.

Louis De Jager (Rsa) – First Round 66 (-5)

I’m pleased with the score today. It was quite calm this morning, so the score was up there. First and last holes I made two bogies, but the 16 holes in between I played lovely, so I’m really pleased.

My putting has improved a lot the last few weeks. I’ve worked a lot on my putting, so that was really good. I saw all the lines nicely and I hit the ball well, I drove it nicely, so that helps. It’s a good combination to have.

The greens are rolling very nicely. They have a good speed, a comfortable speed, so you can really give the birdie putts a bit of a go. They are very true. What you see is what they usually do.

It’s not the narrowest course, so if you just give yourself enough opportunities on the greens. It gets quite windy, so if you get the wind right on the shots you should be fine.

It’s always a special place to come to, so we’re really enjoying it. It’s nice and hot and humid. I’ll go for a swim this afternoon.

Sebastian Heisele (Ger) – First Round 66 (-5)

I’m very pleased with my round. My front nine was a bit of a nightmare to be honest. I didn’t really feel too comfortable but slowly found something that worked for me. I got going on the back nine and pleased to pick up five shots on the back.

I was pulling my shots left as in far left and that made it hard. I feel that the back nine is easier than the front. When you are not feeling it and when you are looking down the fairway and see the bushes along the fairway, you just don’t feel comfortable.

I felt that I’ve been hitting the ball well all of this week. I had a few days off after a long stretch in the last season so I came out here without much expectation. My score surprised me and it also surprised me that I was hitting so badly earlier today but I’m happy I got it back.

Leading first round scores:

62 – Arjun ATWAL (IND)

66 – Sebastian HEISELE (GER) , Louis DE JAGER (RSA) , Miguel TABUENA (PHI) , Adilson Da SILVA (BRA) , Ockie STRYDOM (RSA)

67 – Joel STALTER (FRA) , Romain LANGASQUE (FRA) , Pontus WIDEGREN (SWE) , George COETZEE (RSA) , Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) , Jbe KRUGER (RSA) , Oliver BEKKER (RSA) , Teaghan GAUCHE (RSA) , Anders HANSEN (DEN) , Marcus KINHULT (SWE) , Jason KNUTZON (USA) , Dylan FRITTELLI (RSA) , Laurie CANTER (ENG)

68 – Justin WALTERS (RSA) , Adrien SADDIER (FRA) , Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) , Jacques KRUYSWIJK (RSA) , Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) , Ricardo GOUVEIA (POR) , Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) , Andrea PAVAN (ITA) , Jarin TODD (USA) , Richard MCEVOY (ENG) , Jose-Filipe LIMA (POR) , Pep ANGLES (ESP) , Casey O’TOOLE (USA)

69 – Raphael JACQUELIN (FRA) , Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA) , Douglas MCGUIGAN (RSA) , Andrew CURLEWIS (RSA) , Johannes VEERMAN (USA) , Mark WILLIAMS (ZIM) , Jaco PRINSLOO (RSA) , Haydn PORTEOUS (RSA) , S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) , Matthieu PAVON (FRA) , Shiv KAPUR (IND) , James MORRISON (ENG) , Jaco AHLERS (RSA)

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