Indian golfer Arjun Atwal got off to a disappointing start at the USD 6.6 million 3M Open, carding a two-over 73 in the first round of PGA tour event here. Playing only his second tournament since returning to action after the coronavirus-forced break, Atwal was Tied-120th and needed a solid second round to ensure action over the weekend.
At the top, Richy Werenski, 28, shot a career-low-tying 63 with nine birdies, also his career-best, while Michael Thompson hit all 18 greens in regulation in his bogey-free 64 to take the second spot. A week after finishing eighth at the Memorial Tournament, Tony Finau had seven birdies and one bogey in his 65. He was one of the seven players in Tied-third.
As Atwal shot 73, Indo-Swede Daniel Chopra and Indian-American Sahith Theegala, carded one-over 72 each at the TPC Twin Cities course. Former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson withdrew due to back injury after carding a seven-over 78 in the first round. Last week he shot 80-80 at the Memorial.
Another former World No, 1 Brooks Koepka shot one-under 70 and was T-57. Making his first start after flying in from the UK and spending time in quarantine, former European No 1, Tommy Fleetwood carded 71 to lie T-82.
Atwal, who last year came into this same event through a Monday qualifier and contended for three days, was not in the same rhythm. The Indian golfer did hit 10 of the 14 fairways and 11 of the 18 greens, but for a better part of the round he found himself in 12-20 feet range from the cup and did not hole most of them. He also missed a few times from inside 10 feet.
Starting from the 10th, Atwal birdied the 12th from eight feet but ran into rough weather on 17th and 18th as he took penalties on both. On the Par-3 17th, he ended with a double bogey and on the Par-5 18th he got away with a par. He managed a par on 18th with a 17-foot par putt, which was also his longest putt to the day.
In the front nine, Atwal birdied sixth but dropped a bogey on seventh. In his previous outing, Atwal had finished Tied-45 at Rocket Mortgage Classic three weeks ago.
Defending champion Matthew Wolff opened with 6-under 65. Werenski making his 99th start is seeking his first career TOUR win, having twice finished second at 2017 Barracuda Championship and 2018 Barbasol Championship.
China's Xinjun Zhang shot 65 and was among the group at T-3 with five birdies and an eagle against a long bogey. Last week, he was T10 at the Memorial Tournament after missing four earlier cuts. Nick Watney, the first player to have tested positive for COVID-19, hit 16 of the 18 greens in his 65, which was one of the seven bogey free rounds of the day.
Bo Van Pelt (66) aced No. 8 from 195 yards for his third career ace, which includes one at the 2012 Masters.