The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atwal retains Tour card
- 'I now have the confidence that I can play with the best of the boys out there'

Calcutta: Arjun Atwal has kept his card for the USPGA Tour for another year, and Sunday's excellent sixth-place finish in the $4.8 million Greensboro Classic in North Carolina helped. So far, though, he has managed a place around 140, which means he has a conditional card (available till rank 150) whereby he can choose around 18 tourneys. For a full exemption card he will have to finish within 125 on the Tour.

'I am happy to have finished where I did on Sunday,' Atwal told The Telegraph over phone Tuesday from Orlando, his home in the US. 'At least now I will be able to stay on the circuit for another year.'

He can still get a full exemption card. 'There are two ways,' he said. 'First, I can try and be near the top at the Funai Classic, my last engagement on the Tour this year (his 30th), and secondly, by going back to the second stage of the qualifying school and pushing score for full exemption.'

The Funai Classic will be at the Disney World (Florida) venue and 'just five minutes from my home. It will be fun. Finally I will be able to sleep in my own bed and just drive a little distance to the course.'

It will also be a long time since he will be at home with wife Ritika and baby son Krishen ' 15 weeks, to be precise. 'This year I have hardly rested, mostly on the road. However, after the summer delays (when his son was born) Ritika and Krishen have both been travelling with me, and thank God for that'

The Funai Classic will be having Vijai Singh in fray, but Tiger Woods will probably still be missing (and not as reported Monday), because of his honeymoon.

'This summer was a big struggle' missed cuts and all that. But I learned, as a rookie on the Tour, which of the courses and tournaments to like and which not,' he said. 'For example, the week before I played the Honda Classic in the Palm Beach area. I didn't like that course. It was too tricky, more like a Mickey Mouse golf course. I liked most other courses, though.

'Also, when my wife was having her delivery and as long as she and my baby could not move out with me, it was difficult for me on the circuit. Lots of things apart from golf to think of. Now things are easing out.

'And playing under the kind of pressure like last week, I now have the confidence that I can play with the best of the boys out there. Only the putting, sometimes' Had I putted halfway decent last week, I would have come out winner!'

So, does he plan to take on a coach' 'No, not really, at this level you sort of can gauge and understand your mistakes by yourself. I don't need a coach. Sometimes your caddie can tell you.' His caddie is Steve Kay, from North Carolina, but, then, he hardly knew the course last week on home soil.

'Overall, when I look back, I am not too disappointed with my performance on the Tour. I have become more mature now, and want to take in more of the activity.'

Times are pretty busy out there for Atwal. He is coming back to India on November 3, but first to New Delhi to attend his brother-in-law's marriage. He will be back in Calcutta after that, but for a short time, before returning to the US, to take part in the second stage of the qualifying school, if he hasn't finished among the top five in the Funai Classic by then, that is.

A golfing tour can be as busy as a tennis tour. Hence, even though Atwal and Leander Paes actually have homes close enough, and despite they being friends, they hardly meet. 'Haven't met Leander all this year,' said Atwal. ' He messaged me a couple of times on his finishes in different meets, but that's all we could do.'

Two Calcutta talents, too busy at home away from home.

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