Arjun Atwal reacts on the 18th hole after winning the...

Arjun Atwal reacts on the 18th hole after winning the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Aug. 22, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Arjun Atwal was talking to his old Nassau Community College golf coach Larry Dell Aquila on Tuesday night, a phone conversation not unlike the hundreds between them going back nearly 20 years.

"I feel really good right now," Atwal said, "I have been able to put three rounds together, but not four."

"Arj," Dell Aquila replied, "this can be your week."

Sunday, Atwal, a graduate of Clarke High School and Nassau CC, tacked on that precious fourth round. He shot a 3-under-par 67 to win the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., his first PGA Tour victory. Atwal cooly rolled in a 7-footer for par on the 18th hole for a one-shot victory over David Toms, a win not only worth $918,000, but more importantly, a two-year exemption to play the PGA Tour and an invitation to the Masters in 2011.

Atwal is the first Indian player to win on the PGA Tour, and the first Monday qualifier to win a PGA event since Fred Wadsworth in 1986. He was forced to qualify Monday after failing to make enough money while playing this season on a medical exemption. He was non-exempt after the Canadian Open in July and despite the victory, he is not exempt for the FedEx Cup playoffs that begin this week in the Barclays Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.

"I told my caddie we have nothing to lose this week," Atwal said afterward. "Just go out there and try to win it. Guys are going to be out there trying to secure their FedEx Cup spots. We've got nothing. I don't have a card. I don't have anything. Just go out there and freewheel it."

After firing a 9-under 61 to take the lead in the opening round and following it with rounds of 67 and 65, Atwal took a three-shot lead into yesterday's round, then saw it vanish before hitting a superb iron shot to the par-3 16th for birdie that regained the lead for good. After a par on 17, Atwal deliberately played his approach shot to the 18th to run off the back of the green and up against the CBS tower, where he knew he would get a free drop for a relatively simple chip and putt for the clinching par.

Since he turned pro in 1995, Atwal, 37, had shown promise but hadn't shown enough consistency to win on the PGA Tour or to keep his Tour card. He has won nine times in Asia, including events co-sponsored by the European Tour, and led the Asian Tour's money list in 2003 with more than $1 million. He won the 2008 Chattanooga Classic on the Nationwide Tour.

His top 25 finish on the 2008 Nationwide money list earned him another shot at the PGA Tour last year, but his season was truncated by injuries to both shoulders suffered while weightlifting. Playing this season on the medical exemption, he needed to make $600,000 in eight events to keep his card. He made $350,000 and lost the exemption, sending him to the Monday qualifier for the Wyndham. A cortisone shot in his right shoulder and rehab, including a visit to a doctor in India, has made him fit to play this season. He declined surgery, fearing that it would keep him out for more than a year.

Atwal lives in Windermere, Fla., with wife, Sona, and children, Ritika and Krishen.

"I told him I would call him on Sunday like I usually do," Dell Aquila said of their Tuesday conversation. "Then I told him that maybe I would call him on Monday, after you win."

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