Atwal no normal first-timer


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Of the 20 first-timers in this week’s Masters field few, if any, have travelled as far to get Augusta National as Arjun Atwal.

From the sun-baked greens at Royal Calcutta Golf Club in India to Magnolia Lane is about 7,900 miles, five different global tours and countless afternoons hitting putts and dreaming of a green jacket.

“It was always this one,” Atwal said when asked what major he wanted to win the most growing up. “I was always a good putter and figured it would be a blast to putt on these greens.”

Not only did Atwal slip into town last Monday for his first look at Augusta National but he did so with Tiger Woods. Atwal, who qualified for the Masters via his victory at last year’s Wyndham Championship, said it was Woods’ idea for the two to play the practice round and that the four-time Masters champion “showed me the entire place.”

“He hit the chip at 16 (which Woods holed in 2005 to win his last Masters). He didn’t want to, but I talked him into it,” Atwal smiled. “We put a tee in the ground (where the hole location was in ’05) and he almost holed it again.”