Atwal fires sparkling 62 to take charge at AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open
Mauritius, November 30: Arjun Atwal of India fired a superb nine-under-par 62 without playing a practice round to lead by four shots on the first day at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Thursday.
The former Asian Tour number one posted a flawless round highlighted by seven birdies and one eagle to hold a commanding lead over Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, Sebastian Heisele of Germany, Louis de Jager of South Africa and Adilson Da Silva of Brazil at the Heritage Golf Club.
Major champion Louis Oosthuizen and George Coetzee of South Africa, who won this event in 2015, were bunched up in tied sixth place on matching 67s at the €1million (approximately US$1.07 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour.
Atwal, who is the Captain for Team Asia at the 2018 EurAsia Cup, arrived late Wednesday evening after traveling 16 hours via Dubai from Kuala Lumpur where he attended a press conference to announce his team for the match-play event against Europe next year.
The 44-year-old exceeded his own expectations by shooting 31 in each half with the highlight of his day coming on the 14th hole where he sank a huge 25-foot eagle putt. His score of 62 is also the new course record at the Heritage Golf Club.
The 23-year-old Tabuena put on a battling performance and is on a mission to erase the heartbreak of missing out on a second Asian Tour title at the Resorts World Manila Masters three weeks ago where he bogeyed the last hole to miss the play-off.
Did you know?
- Atwal replaced the course record of 65 set by Coetzee, Jeunghun Wang of Korea, Carlos Pigem of Spain and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark in 2015.
- The last time Atwal shot a 62 was in the opening round of the 2005 Indonesia Open. The score remains his lowest on the Asian Tour.
- He took advantage of a hot putter in the opening round where he totalled 26 putts which included 10 one putts.
- Atwal is an eight-time Asian Tour champion but his last victory was at the 2014 Dubai Open. He also won the Order of Merit in 2003.
- Atwal holds the distinction as the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour at the 2010 Wyndham Championship.
- The last time he played at the Heritage course was in 2015 where he missed the cut. He finished tied 27th last year but on a different golf course.
- Atwal is currently ranked 55th on the Order of Merit. He needs a good result this week to stay inside the top-60 at the end of the 2017 to retain his full Asian Tour card.
- Tabuena is one of the rising stars on the Asian Tour. He is enjoying a superb 2017 season so far with two tied third results and one tied fifth finish. He won his first Asian Tour title in 2015.
- He enjoyed a flawless first nine which included an eagle-three on the seventh hole. He traded three birdies against two bogeys on his homeward nine.
- Tabuena missed only two fairways and three greens in regulation. He totalled 29 putts with a three-putt on the 18th hole being the highest. He bogeyed that hole.
- Da Silva is searching for his first Asian Tour title. He traded seven birdies against two bogeys to give himself a battling chance this week.
- He enjoyed a career high in 2016 when he was given the honour of striking the first tee shot at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when golf made a return into the programme after 112 years.