| Atwal has been paired with Jonathan Kaye and Craig Thomas for the first two rounds
New Jersey: India’s Arjun Atwal will become the first indian to compete in the US PGA Championships, traditionally the year’s fourth and final golf major, when he tees up at the lower course at Balsturol Golf Club on Thursday.
Atwal, who is riding a high on the US Tour with more than $800,000 which has secured him a full card for 2006 season, would be playing in his first major of the season and the second of his career.
Atwal, winner of the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour in 2003, is paired with Jonathan Kaye and Craig Thomas for the first two rounds.
The genial Indian has been in great form, having made the cut in each of his 12 starts this season. He came within a whisker of becoming the first Indian to win a title on US Tour, when he lost in a five-way play-off at the Bellsouth Classic and finished second.
He was also tied fifth at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and tied ninth at the BC Open.
Atwal played and missed the cut at the British Open last year. Other Indians to have played the majors are Jyoti Randhawa, who has played three times at the British Open, Gaurav Ghei, once at British Open and Jeev Milkha Singh, once at the US Open.
Atwal is the first Indian to have made the field for a major this year, though Daniel Chopra, a Swede of Indian origin, played and made the cut at the British Open last month.
“This is a great chance to make a mark at the highest stage,” said Atwal. “I have been playing well and hope to make the best of this chance.”
Atwal made the field on the strength of his showing on the Tour this season and late last season. He is currently 66th on the money list.
Atwal has six Asian Tour titles to his name, two of them joint sanctioned with European Tour. His titles include the Indian Open (1999), Hero Honda Masters (2000, 2003), Star Alliance Open (2000), Caltex Singapore Masters (2002) and Carlsberg Malaysian Open (2003).