Florida: Being a close friend of Tiger Woods has helped India`s Arjun Atwal in more ways than he can count out on the course.
The two golfers are neighbours in Windermere, Florida, where they regularly play practice rounds together, and Atwal has learned a great deal from the 14-times major winner about the mental approach to the game.
Woods also played an important behind-the-scenes role for Atwal before the Indian clinched his maiden victory on the PGA Tour at last year`s Wyndham Championship.
"We practise so much together and Tiger tries to support me in any way he can," Atwal told reporters during this week`s Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort.
"In fact, he even told me to go out and play in the Monday qualifier for the Wyndham Championship. I had my European Tour card as well and it was my last year being fully exempt there.”
"So I was in two minds whether to go and play there or at the Wyndham. And Tiger was like: `Just go ahead and play in Monday qualifying and you will be fine`. And that`s exactly what I did."
Atwal sank a pressure-packed seven-foot par putt on the final hole to beat American David Toms by one shot and become the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour since 1986.
He also became the first Indian and sixth Asian-born player to triumph on the US circuit, a breakthrough that booked his place in the field for this week`s winners-only Tournament of Champions.
"That was huge for me, especially because two weeks prior to that I had just lost my (PGA Tour) card and my conditional status with the medical (exemption)," said Atwal.
The previous season, he had been sidelined for four months by a lingering shoulder injury.