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August 20 2010

6:08 PM

Atwal has big goals

Arjun Atwal may not be able to earn FedExCup points this week but that doesn't mean the man who is tied for the 36-hole lead  doesn't have big goals at the Wyndham Championship this week.

arjun.atwal.interview A win would give him a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. Atwal had lost his card three weeks ago when he wasn't able to earn enough money to fulfill his minor medical exemption.

He could also secure his playing privileges by earning enough money to finish among the top 125 on the money list. And if Atwal earned enough to finish between 126-150, he would be exempt into the final stage of q-school.

So barring the all-important win, a big paycheck at Sedgefield would go a long way toward helping Atwal, who already has earned $350,490 this year.

Atwal is still exempt on the European Tour after his 2008 win at the Maybank Malaysian Open, his eighth international victory. But he has opted to stay in the States and continue his quest to earn his PGA TOUR card.

"That's my goal is to secure my job for next year," Atwal said. "... We could have gone and played in Europe.  I didn't want to do that.  My main goal is to play here."

Toward that end, Atwal has written for sponsor's exemptions for all the Fall Series events. He hasn't received any, though, so he plans to Monday qualify as he did for the Wyndham Championship.

Atwal is nothing if not determined, too.

Prior to this week, Atwal's last tournament was The Greenbrier Classic. He had a flight out of Roanoke that Sunday and was planning to Monday qualify for the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

Airline employees told him he was likely to miss his connection in Atlanta, though -- and if he did make it, his bags and clubs probably wouldn't. So Atwal and his caddy rented a car and drove to Syracuse, arriving at 6:30 a.m.

Atwal was in the second group off the tee in the qualifier. He shot a 68 and then had to wait until everyone was finished for the playoff -- where he lost out on the final spot.

His performance at Forest Oaks on Monday was more successful as his 67 got Atwal into the field. He opened with a 61 on Thursday and followed with a 67 to tie Brandt Snedeker.

"I feel pretty good about my swing," Atwal said. "Obviously I didn't hit it as good as yesterday but they say that it's hard to back up a really low number with another one.

"I missed a couple of fairways today where, you know, kind of hard to get it on the green from there.  That's why I made a couple of bogeys.  Other than that, I'm pretty happy with the way I played today."

Atwal says he's a leaderboard watcher, and he's anxious to see how the weekend unfolds.

"If I get into contention on Sunday on the back nine, I won't be scared," Atwal said. "Hopefully my swing holds up and we'll see what happens." – Helen Ross

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