Brilliant Atwal shows old form for Dubai lead

Fri 19 Dec 2014

Brilliant Atwal shows old form for Dubai lead

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Dubai, December 19: The old Arjun Atwal showed up in the second round of the inaugural Dubai Open on Friday as the Indian star fired a sizzling seven-under-par 65 to share the early halfway lead with countryman Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Atwal, a former Asian Tour number one and the first Indian winner on the PGA Tour, was flawless at a benign Els Club Dubai as he sank seven birdies to shoot up the leaderboard with Bhullar, who birdied two of his last three holes for a 69.
Gaganjeet Bhullar of India Gaganjeet Bhullar of India
Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka fired a fine 66 to trail by one as he boosted his chances of saving his Asian Tour card while South African Bryce Easton and Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul are a further stroke back following rounds of 68 and 72 respectively in what is the final tournament of the 2014 season.
Tournament draw Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland cruised at three-under but dropped a double bogey on his last for a 71 which left him five off the early pace with the second round still in progress.
“It felt really good, actually.  Felt like the old days,” smiled the 41-year-old Atwal. “No mistakes, no bogeys, just solid. And it was playing easy, it was gettable. It was easier than yesterday in the afternoon.”
Atwal said his putting clicked as he took seven strokes fewer on the putting surfaces than Thursday, needing 27 putts to negotiate his bogey-free round. “I found a little something in my putting. Just yesterday I made an adjustment on the course and I started making some putts,” said Atwal, who holds seven wins on the Asian Tour.
Since his historic triumph on the PGA Tour in 2010, Atwal’s form has dipped due to injuries and he has notched only one top-10 over the past two years. But with the Dubai Open being his fifth straight tournament on the Asian Tour, where he has not missed a cut, he hopes to turn the corner with his game.
“I haven't played this many in a row in two years.  You know, obviously I'm trying to get comfortable under pressure.  Actually I know where my misses are going to be, so I limit that, so it's better,” said Atwal.
Daisuke Kataoka of Japan Daisuke Kataoka of Japan
Three weeks into his comeback following a three-month layout due to a wrist injury, Bhullar showed he was also back in top form with four birdies on the card.
“It was a great finish.  I gave myself a lot of opportunities coming down the stretch.  But really got lucky on number seven where I holed a bunker shot. Today was a consistent round. I hit a lot of greens in regulation,” said the 26-year-old, who is a five-time Asian Tour winner.
Bhullar, 26, said he was regaining the length with his driving which he believes is important at the Els Club Dubai. “I had lost about 20, 25 yards with my driver. Last week was better, and I think this week it's coming back. I can feel it’s close to what I normally hit. You know, it's really a great feeling to be inside the ropes and again competing with these guys.  I really missed this part for about two and a half, three months,” he said.
“I've never played with him (Arjun).  Of course I've followed him and he's a good friend of mine, but it would be great if I got paired up with him tomorrow.  It's very nice for Indian golf, and he's one of the legends.”
Slightly-built Kataoka hopes to break into the top-60 of the Asian Tour rankings from his current 70th position where he needs at least a top-six finishhere. He took advantage of calm conditions to fire six birdies.
“Condition was good and my game, everything was good. I hope to finish top-six to keep my Asian Tour card. I want to play in the co-sanctioned tournaments with Europe. I already have my Japan card but the Asian Tour card is also very good,” he said.
The Dubai Open is promoted and organised by golf in DUBAi.  The Els Club Dubai is situated within the sprawling Dubai Sports City where the par-72 course combines links style golf with traditional 'classical era' design. Opened for play in 2008, the course stretches 7,538 yards and was named as ‘Best New International Course’ by prestigious US magazine, Links, and “Best New Facility of the Year” by Troon Golf.
About the Asian Tour
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