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Icons and contemporaries heap praise

New Delhi: Cricket icon Kapil Dev, sprint legend Milkha Singh and Sports Minister M.S. Gill led the chorus of appreciation for Arjun Atwal, who scripted golfing history by becoming the first Indian to clinch a U.S. PGA Tour title.

The victory in the Wyndham golf Championship at Greensboro on Sunday earned him his card on the PGA Tour for the remainder of this year and the next two years as well.

Kapil said Atwal has reaped the reward for his continuous hard work.

“This is a big victory for Indian sports. Arjun has been fighting for consistency. One big win at this level will boost his confidence and I hope the rest will come on a platter. He is not a small golfer. He required such a win and this will make him much better,” he said.

Also congratulating Atwal for his feat was ‘Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh, whose son Jeev finished tied 18th in the same tournament.

Doing country proud

“Atwal's performance is highly appreciable. He deserves applause from each and every citizen of India. His win has brought name and fame to India,” said Milkha.

“His win is a proof that Indian golfers are as good with talent as any other European or US golfer,” he added.

Gill also lavished praise on Atwal, who had been enduring injuries and poor form for more then a year and ended up losing his playing card last month.

“I am delighted that Arjun Atwal has this great victory on the PGA Tour. It is truly a remarkable achievement and puts Indian golfers on an even higher level internationally. I want to congratulate him,” said Gill.

All happy

Fellow golfers like contemporaries like Gaurav Ghei and Gaganjeet Bhullar were also happy at Atwal's feat.

“It's undoubtedly the biggest thing to happen to Indian golf,” said Gaurav Ghei, who was the first Indian to qualify for the British Open in 1997. “It's an achievement that most of us never even dreamt of.”

Ghei recalled that Atwal had always aimed for it. “I do remember Atwal saying that he wanted to win on the PGA Tour. Hats off to him for sticking it out in the U.S. on his own and doing it.”

Upcoming player Gaganjeet Bhullar felt the face of Indian golf was likely to change with Atwal's victory as it could result in more exemptions for players.

“It could change the careers of Indian golfers and the way we look at the game. With Indians doing well on other circuits, it was long overdue and comes as a welcome relief for us, ”said the 22-year-old, who plays on the Asian Tour.

Exemplary

Professional Golf Tour of India Director Padamjit Sandhu said Atwal has been exemplary in his dedication to the sport and deserved the triumph.

“A very hearty congratulation to Arjun Atwal for his fantastic win at the Wyndham championship. This win is clearly a defining moment for Indian professional golf and will go a long way in inspiring the current generation of professionals in the country.

“It has been Arjun's dedication and work ethic which has made this feat possible, of becoming the first Indian to win on the USPGA Tour.

Dedicated

“We wish him all the best, and look forward to hosting him soon at a PGTI event,” Sandhu said.

Asian Tour's Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han also hailed Atwal's title, saying that his feat will inspire more ground-breaking performances from India and across Asia.

“The Asian Tour played an instrumental role in shaping Atwal's career during his playing days here. Even though he's now based in Florida, his success will serve as an inspiration to many,” said Han. — Agencies

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