Atwal leads McGladrey Classic
Arjun Atwal (Gallo Images)
Georgia - Arjun Atwal, who is running out of time to keep his PGA Tour card, used his new putting stroke to set up a 7-under 63 in Friday's second round of the McGladrey Classic, taking a one-shot lead into the weekend.
Atwal, whose two-year exemption from winning in Greensboro, North Carolina, expires this year, is No 175 on the money list and has only two tournaments left to finish in the top 125. He opened with three straight birdies and took the outright lead with a wedge into 5 feet on the fifth hole, his 14th of the round.
"I'm in a desperate situation," Atwal said. "I got no choice - either win or finish in the top two. So I've just got to grind it out."
Atwal was at 10-under 130, a stroke ahead of US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, who is playing his third straight tournament since his team lost a big final day lead against Europe at Medinah.
Love hit a 6-iron to 3 feet on the 17th hole, putting him into the final group on Saturday. He is tied with Jim Furyk, who is playing his first tournament since his bogey-bogey finish in the Ryder Cup.
Atwal struggled with a bad back early in the year when he opened the season by missing the cut in seven straight tournaments. His chronic left knee is acting up now and he expects to have tests on it at the end of the year.
All he cares about now is getting a card for next year, a position with which he is familiar.
Two years ago, Atwal had to go through Monday qualifying for the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, and then he shot a 61 on his way to his lone PGA Tour victory. He recalls one year on the Nationwide Tour when he won late in the season to finish in the top 25 and earn back his tour card.
More than injuries, he felt he spent too much time getting technical with his swing after changing coaches, and it took him until June before he stopping thinking and starting playing. He started making cuts, but he didn't make up much ground.
Love moved to Sea Island when he was 14. What helped more than his course knowledge was switching to a belly putter.
"I've been messing around with this putter for well over a year, I just haven't had the nerve to put it in play," Love said. "But I had two pro-ams this week so I said, 'This is the best time - my home greens, two pro-ams on my home course.' So I tried it out and the first day I used it, I made eight birdies. So it worked."
Furyk rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th, converted a two-putt birdie from 100 feet away just off the green, and made a third straight birdie on the 16th from about 12 feet. He wound up with a 65.
"I felt a little rusty on the way in," Furyk said. "I have a lot of confidence in my ball striking right now, but when you don't play a lot, sometimes it's the course management, making the good decisions. And so far that's all kind of coming back to me slowly and I've kind of gained momentum as the last two rounds have gone on."
David Toms was tied with them until he made bogey on the final hole for a 67, though he was still only two shots off the lead. Bud Cauley, who shared the first-round lead, wasn't as crisp with his irons and had to settle for a 70. He also was two behind, still in great shape as he pursues his first PGA Tour win. Gavin Coles joined them at 132 after six birdies in a round of 65.
The cut was at 1-under 209, meaning all 88 remaining players were within nine shots of the lead.
Chad Campbell, who hit all 18 greens in regulation, was among those at 7-under 133, while Vijay Singh (68) and Jason Day (67) were four shots behind.
Leading second-round scores on Friday from the US PGA Tour $4m McGladrey Classic (USA unless noted):
130 - Arjun Atwal (IND) 67-63
131 - Jim Furyk 66-65, Davis Love 65-66
132 - Bud Cauley 62-70, Gavin Coles (AUS) 67-65, David Toms 65-67
133 - Chad Campbell 66-67, Brian Gay 65-68, Mathew Goggin (AUS) 67-66, Greg Owen (ENG) 64-69, Michael Thompson 65-68, D.J. Trahan 66-67
134 - Steven Bowditch (AUS) 68-66, Jason Day (AUS) 67-67, Martin Flores 65-69, Charles Howell 66-68, Rory Sabbatini (RSA)
69-65, Vijay Singh (FIJ) 66-68, Peter Tomasulo 67-67
135 - Roberto Castro 69-66, Ken Duke 67-68, Tim Herron 69-66, Zach Johnson 65-70, Danny Lee (NZL) 65-70, Rod Pampling (AUS) 64-71, Kyle Reifers 67-68, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 67-68, Boo Weekley 64-71, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 66-69