Barely two weeks ago, Tiger Woods quizzed about his Indian buddy, Arjun Atwal, first said, it was unfortunate he could not be here (in Orlando for the Hero World Challenge) and then quickly changed and said, “Fortunately, I should say, that he’s not here, because he is playing in Asia.” He added, “I have been in touch with him and his game seems to be coming around.”

India's Arjun Atwal
India's Arjun Atwal hugs his children Krishna (left) and Shiva after winning the Dubai Open at the Els Club in Dubai yesterday. Pic/Getty Images. Inside Golf legend Tiger Woods.

Two weeks on, as Tiger finds his way back from injuries, Atwal, a close friend has found his way into the winners’ circle once again. Atwal, who has been a friend of Woods, ever since the former World No 1 got him to become a member at the Isleworth Country Club in Orlando almost 10 years ago, won his first event since 2010 (the Wyndham Championships) and the first on Asian and European Tour since 2008. Yesterday, Atwal won the inaugural Dubai Open by one stroke after South Korea’s teenager Wang Jeung-hun bogeyed the final hole.

There for each other
“You know, we’ve become like really, really close. Him (Tiger) going through his stuff and me struggling the last couple of years, we’ve been there for each other. It’s almost to the point where …. There’s very few friends in the world that will be there for you when you need them the most, and he’s one of them. And I’m there for him, as well.”

He added, “So you know, going through this two years of struggle, he’s always been nothing but positive. I’ve spent some time with him in Jupiter and all that stuff, and he’s always guided me the right way of which way I should go with my game or how the health is feeling, how to go about rehabbing stuff and all that stuff.”

Atwal also revealed, “He texted me in the morning and told me, “Shoot 2 under a side; shoot 68 and you should be good.” He was wrong (laughs).” Asked to compare his feelings after the win in Dubai, which came following lot of trials and tribulations and his first and only PGA Tour win in 2010, Atwal said, “It’s as good. It’s actually as good (as the PGA win). I can’t believe that I’m saying that, comparing it to my lifetime goal (which) was to win on the PGA Tour.

“To have won today, which I think it’s maybe even a greater feeling today. I didn’t think I would play again or compete again. Especially when I had the back injury and the hip injury, I couldn’t walk. So it was really like, you know, debilitating. So, yeah, it’s something else right now.”