Atwal stays alive in tour card battle at Hong Kong Open

Hong Kong, Dec 10 (IANS) Former Asian Tour number one golfer Arjun Atwal fired a third round of four-under-par 66 at the UBS Hong Kong Open to brighten his chances of retaining his full playing rights next year.

The 43-year-old was disappointed to bogey his last hole with a three-putt at a sun-kissed Hong Kong Golf Club but five birdies on the card pushed him up to tied 19th position with one round to play for the 2016 season.

Currently in 69th position on the Order of Merit, Atwal needs to break into the top-60 on Sunday to keep his full card and needs to earn US$16,000 here to overhaul current 60th ranked Shunya Takeyasu, who is not playing this week.

Atwal said he has not calculated the mathematics for his Tour survival. Finishing alone in the 33rd position is worth US$16,000.

“I know I’m close. Because everybody else keeps telling me,” Atwal responded on Saturday when asked if he knew where he needed to finish in the tournament to retain his full playing rights.

“If I think about it, then probably I won’t be able to play. I know I’m outside the number looking in. First thing was to make the cut, because my back wasn’t all that great the first two days. Couldn’t practice or anything. You know, if I play solid tomorrow, I think I should be all right.”

Atwal, the first Indian to win on the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour, was simply glad he managed to stay in the Hong Kong Open following back trouble at the start of the week.

“I played in the Pro-Am and it got tight in the morning, and it just kept progressively getting bad, and I’ve already pulled out of two tournaments this year, one on the PGA Tour and one on the European Tour.

“And I knew this was the symptoms coming up. I went to the physio (Phillipa Stewart) and I wanted to hit balls and she said no.

“Then yesterday was a little bit better, the back, and then today was a lot better. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I want to shoot a low one tomorrow,” he added, according to a release.

–IANS

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