Practice partner upstages Tiger

Arjun Atwal shoots 4-under 66 to forge a four-way tie after the first round at the AT&T National.

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Arjun Atwal shoots 4-under 66 to forge a four-way tie after the first round at the AT&T National.

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — In the five years Arjun Atwal has been playing practice rounds with Tiger Woods at home in Central Florida, he learned long ago to stop comparing himself with the world's No. 1 player.

There was no comparison Thursday.

Atwal made seven birdies in his round of 4-under 66 and was in a four-way tie for the lead in the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club. Woods threw away five shots over the last five holes and opened with 3-over 73, making it a challenge today just to make the cut.

"It was a very frustrating day on the greens, especially how good I was driving," Woods said.

Atwal was atop the leaderboard with Nick Watney, Joe Ogilvie and Byron Nelson winner Jason Day.

Playing on a sponsor's exemption, Atwal recovered from a bogey on his opening hole with three straight birdies, all inside 12 feet, and kept the mistakes to a minimum.

"Four under, I think, is a great score for me or anybody on this golf course," Atwal said. "I'll take it every day."

Woods, who won the tournament last year at Congressional, had his best round of the year off the tee. He hit driver on all but three holes on the tree-lined course with rough nearly as thick as it was in the U.S. Open. He just didn't give himself that many birdie chances, and when he did, he couldn't make any.

Atwal, a native of India, made news in 2007 when a man trying to race him down an Orlando street died in a crash. Atwal was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Lately, however, he is best known for playing with Woods — not only at Isleworth, but three rounds of practice at the U.S. Open. "As far as comparing myself with him … it's strange, because we practice and play every day, so I've stopped doing that," Atwal said.

Asked what kind of bets they have at Isleworth, Atwal smiled and said, "All I can say is I owe him a little bit right now."

Woods interviewed in hgh case: Woods said he met with federal authorities and answered all their questions concerning a Canadian doctor accused of distributing human growth hormone. Woods has said he was treated by Dr. Anthony Galea, but he has repeatedly said he has never taken performance-enhancing drugs. He said Galea used a blood-spinning technique to help his recovery from knee surgery. Galea, not authorized to work in the United States, is accused of repeatedly entering the country to treat athletes.

LPGA: Na Yeon Choi shot a career-best 7-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Alena Sharp in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Sylvania, Ohio. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot an opening-round 3-under 68.

Practice partner upstages Tiger 07/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 11:34pm]

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