The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atwal first Indian to qualify for US PGA Tour
- India-born swede Daniel Chopra also advances to elite Tour with 13-under

New Delhi: Arjun Atwal on Tuesday became the first Indian ever to make it to the most prestigious golfing circuit in the world — the US PGA Tour — after a sterling final round performance in the qualifying school.

His card of three-under 69 in the final stage of the US PGA Tour qualifying school ensured him a pride of place in India’s golfing history.

Acording to information recieved here from the Orange National County Club in Florida, Atwal finished the six-round finals with a tally of 12-under 420 to be tied for the seventh place.

“Playing the PGA Tour is what I have dreamt of ever since I started playing golf and I am glad that I have achieved it,” an ecstatic Atwal said over the phone from Florida.

“This is perhaps the defining moment of my career, but I also realise that this is just the beginning.”

The top-30 and ties received their cards for the 2004 season of the PGA Tour which will feature 48 tournaments and a total purse of over $ 240 million.

Also advancing to the elite Tour was Atwal’s roommate for the week and close friend Daniel Chopra — an India-born Swede.

Chopra shot a final-round of four-under 68 to aggregate 13-under 419 and was sixth in the 170-player field.

It was a sweet redemption for Chopra, who honed his golfing skills in India, as he had missed qualifying from nationwide tour after finishing 21st in the money list in 2003.

It has been an outstanding year for Atwal, who not only won on the European and Asian PGA Tours (Malaysian Open and Hero Honda Masters), but is also in the reckoning for the Order of Merit crown on the Asian PGA Tour.

He is currently leading the race and is approximately $31,000 ahead of the second placed Zhang Lian-Wei of China going into the final tournament of the season — Volvo Masters in Bangkok starting on Thursday.

Atwal started the day tied at 10th place at nine-under. At the Panther Lake Course, he made birdies on the second, fifth and seventh holes to virtually seal his place. On the back nine, he made bogies on the 13th and 16th and a birdie on the 15th, but signed off in style with a birdie on the final hole.

Chopra, who also started at nine-under, made five birdies and a solitary bogey on the ninth.

His birdies came on the second, fifth, seventh, tenth and 18th.

The medallist honour went to Mathias Gronberg of Sweden, who topped with a six-day tally of 20-under 412.

The European PGA Tour regular, who has four titles under his belt on the other side of Atlantic, promptly donated his winner’s cheque of $ 50,000 for cancer research.

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