Former PGA winner Arjun Atwal, the lone Indian in the field following Anirban Lahiri’s decision to take a week off after logging a top-20 finish last week, made a fine start to be placed tied 15th after the first round at the Quicken Loans National golf tournament, in Potomac.
The seasoned Atwal, who has been playing in Asia after losing his PGA Tour card a couple of seasons back, is playing on a sponsor’s exemption this week. He made that count with a fine round of two-under 68 in the opening round.
The TPC Potomac hosting the event for the first time presented a stern test amid sunny, breezy conditions. Even slight misses off the tee were punished severely and, as the weather heated up, even wedge shots were bouncing and releasing on the greens.
Atwal had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine and then a bogey on 12th saw him go one-over. A nice stretch home with birdies on 14th, 16th and 18th saw him finish at two-under.
This season Atwal has missed the cut in the only two events he has played. He had an invite into Sanderson Farms and was a Monday qualifier at St Jude Classic.
David Lingmerth, the winner of a 2012 Web.com Tour event on the tight, tricky layout near Washington, once again relied on his accuracy off the tee to shoot a five-under 65 and take the first-round lead.
The 29-year-old Swede, who also won the 2015 Memorial Tournament for his lone PGA TOUR title, made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch beginning at the 13th hole, three of them from inside 7 feet.
Troy Merritt, the winner two years ago at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, was a stroke back along with Marc Leishman, Johnson Wagner, Sung Kang, Nick Taylor and Daniel Summerhays.