Atwal shoots flawless, lies second at Heritage

Hilton Head Island: A flawless six-under 65 in the opening round at the Heritage saw Arjun Atwal in tied second, one shot behind the leader Garrett Willis.

The Indian ace, who had an agonising time on his Masters debut earlier in the month, showed he was fresh and ready to go on a day when play was delayed by two and a quarter hours.

Willis, using a putter he had originally left in the car and then asked for it brought out, ran six straight birdies at the start but the gave away two bogeys before picking another three birdies enroute to a seven-under 64.

Atwal had a fine day, missing just one fairway and just three greens in regulation and needed 26 putts round the course. He shared the second spot with Matt Bettencourt, Chad Campbell and Tim Herron.

"It was a lot of fun. The conditions were perfect. There wasn`t much wind when we started and it didn`t pick up very much at all. I think these are the best greens we`ve played all year, on any course. And obviously if you get in the fairway here you`re going to make birdie. I hit a lot of birdies and had a lot of chances," said Atwal.

"You know, I don`t think it`s that important to be the leader out in the first round. It`s good to get off to a good start. As for the course suiting me. I`ve always loved the way it fits my eye. Every hole you`ve got to shape shots and it makes you really focus and I like that. You`ve got to pick the spots in the fairways, according to the pins."

On picking up his game away missing the cut at Augusta, Atwal said, "Well, I struggled the last few weeks. I know it`s coming around. I`ve struggled off the tees, but my irons and my short game has been pretty good. I had a lesson with my coach, Dale Lynch, yesterday, and he gave me a little key that`s working."

Luke Donald, No 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, led a bunch of players at four-under 67. Donald could move to No 1 with a win.

As many as 18 players were unable to finish before dark.

Defending champion Jim Furyk and reigning U S Open champion Graeme McDowell, fifth in the world, were in a pack at 68. Ernie Els struggled to a 75.


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