MIAMI (AFP) — India’s Arjun Atwal, idled while grieving his father’s death, returned to competition by firing an eight-under-par 63, one off the lead after Thursday’s opening round of the PGA Bermuda Championship.
American Austin Smotherman, ranked 303rd, fired his career-low PGA score with a bogey-free 62 to match Australian rookie Harrison Endycott for the lead at the windy seaside Port Royal course in Southampton.
But the best feat belonged to 49-year-old Atwal, who shared second with Americans Scott Brown, Adam Schenk, Denny McCarthy, and Robby Shelton.
Atwal only got into the field on Thursday morning after American Nicholas Lindheim withdrew due to a back injury.
“I got here around 7:30, hit a few wedges, and then went in to eat breakfast,” Atwal said. “About 8:45 my caddie texted me. He’s like, oh, 9:10 we might have a game. So I left my breakfast, came out, hit a few drivers, and off we went.”
Atwal began on the back nine and promptly birdied his first three holes, then closed the side with back-to-back birdies before making his lone bogey at the first. He answered with back-to-back birdies at the par-5 second and par-3 third and added two more at the sixth and par-5 seventh.