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From Clarke High to Masters class

Clarke H.S. grad Arjun Atwal will play in

Clarke H.S. grad Arjun Atwal will play in his first Masters this Thursday. (Apr. 4, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Govind Atwal knows potential when he sees it.

Govind was the one who, as a Nassau Community College student, appealed to coach Larry Dell Aquila to talk his younger brother Arjun into enrolling in school and trying out for the golf team.

Arjun had graduated from Clarke High School and knew he wanted to play golf for a living. He was persuaded to play for Nassau, became a national champion, played a bit for Rollins College, turned pro, won a PGA Tour event last year and earned an invitation to his first Masters this week.

There is the potential for quite a show, so of course Govind is here. "I live in India. I come back and forth to watch him," the older brother said while Arjun spent an hour and 15 minutes on the practice green after nine holes of a practice round with Bo Van Pelt.

Atwal had intended to play all 18, but the wind kicked up so badly at Augusta National, he said, "we couldn't get a feel for it." He added that he came up from his Florida home a week earlier and played a full round.

"It's awesome," he said of the place. (Awesome, of course, means difficult as well as beautiful.)

So he kept putting and putting on the practice green, which does not have the same inclines as most of the greens on the course. "But the speed is about the same,'' he said. "I'm just trying to get my speed down. And then the rest you figure out on the golf course. You really have to be able to lag putt here."

For Atwal, the Masters is an occasion as well as a challenge. His parents are here and so are his in-laws, other friends and Dell Aquila. He does not want to let them down. Atwal expects to play practice rounds Tuesday and Wednesday on this unique course. He said, "It should be somewhat familiar by the time I tee it up on Thursday."

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