Latecomer Atwal closes in on maiden win

 

Golf:India's Arjun Atwal will look to defend a three-stroke lead in the final round of the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina as he looks to claim his maiden PGA Tour title.

The world number 450 only qualified for the tournament on Monday and after firing a course-record equalling 61 in the opening round is on course for a memorable success at 17-under.

The 37-year-old was solid rather than spectacular as he went around the Sedgefield Country Club in five-under-par in a round that contained six birdies after he had bogeyed the par-4 fourth.

His playing partner, and joint-overnight leader, Brandt Snedeker lost touch with the lead late on as he made back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17 to finish four strokes adrift.

That meant Atwal's closest challengers are a group of three Americans with Ryder Cup hopeful Lucas Glover, Scott Piercy and Scott McCarron, who finished with four consecutive birdies, on 14-under.

Kevin Na equalled Atwal's course-record equalling 61 to give himself hope on 12 under.

But everyone will be chasing Atwal, who lost his Tour card last month and who will be aiming to become the first Monday qualifier to win since Fred Wadsworth at the Southern Open in 1986.

"I've never won on the PGA Tour, but I've won on almost every other tour I've played on," Atwal said.

"I don't see why it's going to be different trying to win a tournament here. If I'm hitting it well, and I'm playing well (Sunday), I don't see why I can't win."

Scotland's Martin Laird and Sweden's Richard Johnson are the best placed of the European challengers on 12 under.