Arjun Atwal a Surprise PGA Tour Winner
Count the ways.
The 37-year-old from Asansol, India became his country's first PGA Tour winner.
Without PGA Tour status after losing his card when a minor medical exemption ran out, he earned a spot in the tournament field through Monday qualifying -- and a Monday qualifier had not won on the PGA Tour in 24 years.
Also, not only was Atwal previously winless on the PGA Tour, just three times in seven seasons had he held a tournament lead and never after 54 holes. But he set the pace at Sedgefield Country Club from an opening round 61 and headed into Sunday with a three-shot advantage.
If you need a reminder of the difficulty that accompanies a final-round lead, consider last week's PGA Championship: Nick Watney held a 3-stroke lead three days before a final-round 81 resulted in a T18 finish.
So give it up for Atwal.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet, you know, seriously," he said. "Obviously, (it) was a long time dream of mine to win out here but, you know, until it happens, you know, you just keep doubting yourself. And believe me, I had my doubts teeing it up today even with the lead, with a three-shot lead or whatever it was.
"Until you do it, you don't know and I'm just so glad that putt went in. I was really nervous over that putt. It was the most nervous I've ever been in my whole entire life."
The Wyndham was the PGA Tour's final regular-season event, the last opportunity for golfers to play their way into the four-event FedEx Cup playoff series that begins this week. The top 125 on the money list after Sunday qualify to move on to the Barclays, so there was all kinds of 11th-hour opportunity.
Atwal didn't let it happen.
A final-round 67 pushed him to 20-under, one shot better than Davis Toms (64). Two shots back were John Mallinger and Michael Sims, both with 62s, along with John Rollins and Justin Leonard, each after with 65.
He led the field for the week in total putts with 109. He was T3 in fairways hit (45 of 56).
The reward is two years of exempt status, not to mention an invitation to next year's Masters.
However, without PGA Tour membership, Atwal still does not qualify for the playoffs -- but that does not mean the victory does not advance his cause.
Until now, other than being mentioned occasionally as Tiger Woods' practice partner back home in Orlando, Fla., most of Atwal's notoriety was for a police investigation.
Three years ago, a driver trying to race him down an Orlando road died in a crash. The investigation focused on allegations of drag racing, but Atwal was cleared of any wrongdoing. Still a yearlong investigation took an emotional toll.
"I try not to bring that up or talk about it," Atwal said. "It was an accident, you know, it was bad time for both the families involved. Obviously theirs was more painful. But it was an accident. There was no one to blame."
At least in the end there was not. During the investigation, Atwal was looking at the possibility of serious charges. It dragged out over a long period.
"I didn't do anything wrong," he reiterated. "But it took so long, it took a year, you know, and there were so many details our lawyers were going into.
"So you would have doubts, you know, but I mean I knew that I didn't do anything wrong and the other person didn't. It was no one's fault. It was an accident. That was it."
Then another challenge.
He missed more than four months of last season with a shoulder injury. A medical exemption gave him eight events in 2010 to earn $586,007, which would have retained exempt status, but he fell short and lost tour membership.
Atwal only got into this week's field through Monday qualifying, and the victory makes him the first player since somebody named Fred Wadsworth won the 1986 Southern Open after winning a Monday qualifier.
It's pretty heady stuff for a player who took up the game as a 14-year-old in India and is self-taught.
"You know, the only thing I remember about the whole week was as soon as I Monday qualified, I told my caddie we got nothing to lose this week," Atwal said. "Just go out there and try and win it. Guys are going to be out there trying to secure their FedEx Cup spots or whatever.
"We got nothing to do. I don't have a card or anything. Just go out and freewheel it. That's what I did."
With significant results.