Posted On Wednesday, December 05, 2012 at 08:10:59 AM
It was a very different Monday for Arjun Atwal from one a little more than two years ago, with an all-too-obvious contrast in what the immediate future held for the Indian golfer.
In August 2010, having completed a dream victory in desperate circumstances where he made it to the tournament through Monday qualifying, the day after the Wyndham Championship held the security of a two-year ticket to the PGA Tour for the Indian.
It was an unexpected gift after four seasons of trying, but was also a pointer to Atwal’s tenacity and grit. This Monday, on his way home after failing in his last-ditch attempt to receive full playing status for the coming year on the PGA Tour, Atwal was looking at the exact opposite of certainty. Atwal ended tied for the 87th spot with seven-under 423 at the PGA Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Monday, 18 shots back of the winner after six rounds and 10 shots behind the last spot to qualify.
The best 25 and ties made it. Speaking with Mirror after the round, Atwal said he was yet to decide if he would devote much of 2013 to the Web.com Tour, the second rung of the PGA Tour, or instead try and find his way to as many events on the European circuit as possible.
“To be honest, I’m going to have to sit down and think about what I do next,” Atwal said. “I will definitely get a few entries into PGA Tour tournaments because I’m a past winner, but I will also try to play some joint-sanctioned [between European and Asian tours] events abroad.”
What made Atwal’s inability to make it to the main tour this year even more painful was the fact that this was his last chance to do so automatically. Starting next year, the tour will end almost half a century of tradition when the Qschool will only provide cards to the Web.com Tour.
That means that a player would necessarily have to spend a full season playing on the developmental tour before the top-50 finishers from there become members of the bigger circuit. While the PGA Tour is seemingly trying to bring more value to its second-rung circuit through the change by ensuring that more recognizable players play on it, all players are not pleased by it.
England’s Ross Fisher, who won two matches at the Ryder Cup two years ago in Wales, decided to skip the season-ending European Tour event in Dubai to prepare for the Q-school when he heard the news about the PGA Tour’s change.
Colombia’s Camilo Villegas, who won back-to-back FedExCup Playoff events in 2008, is in the same situation as Atwal, missing out on his card in this attempt. For Atwal, the pain of the change hit home.
“It’s the worst thing the PGA Tour could have done,” he said. “It basically closes off the tour and the dreams of any youngster who had thought of making it to the PGA Tour. Why would someone come all the way, spend all that money, and eventually earn only the right to play the secondrung tour?”
Atwal, meanwhile, has a more immediate problem to deal with. He said he had been playing the last five to six months with a knee injury that he will only now get the chance to get operated on. “It’s a torn meniscus in the left knee, along with early arthritis in the joint,” the player said.
“The doctor said it would take a one-day surgical procedure and between two to three weeks of rehabilitation.” The 39-year-old is still hoping to play the Jeev Milkha Singh-hosted Shubhkamna Champions event from December 21 at Noida and may even play some additional tournament on the Indian domestic circuit while he’s at home later this month. Fixing on a plan, short-term or long-term, is currently on hold then.