GREENSBORO, North Carolina (AP) â€” Arjun Atwal of India tied a tournament record with a 61 and took a two-stroke lead at the Wyndham Championship on Thursday.
Atwal matched Carl Pettersson's 2-year-old mark at the par-70 Sedgefield Country Club. He was 9 under through the first round of the U.S. PGA Tour's final event before the playoffs.
Brandt Snedeker, who won this event in 2007, shot a 63.
John Rollins, Kevin Streelman, Lucas Glover, Boo Weekley, David Toms and Jeev Milkha Singh were at 64, and six players shot 65s during an occasionally wet day that left the greens soft and the leaderboard crowded at Sedgefield.
It was an encouraging start for Atwal, who lost his tour card last month and had to play his way into this event in a Monday qualifier across town at Forest Oaks Country Club â€” where this tournament was held from 1977-2007.
He played that course twice before, finishing sixth in 2004, and wound up shooting a 67 to share first place with three other qualifiers. No Monday qualifier has won a tournament since Fred Wadsworth did it at the 1986 Southern Open.
"You get used to making a lot of birdies in the Monday qualifier â€” otherwise you won't make it," Atwal said. "I kind of continued that today."
The loss of his card capped a series of events that began when he injured his shoulders last year while lifting weights. He received a minor medical extension, but when he came up short on the money list following the RBC Canadian Open, his card was history.
He isn't eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs that begin next week in New Jersey, not even if he wins. But he can claim his card for 2011 with a victory â€” either here or at a fall series tournament â€” or a climb up the money lists of the PGA or Nationwide tours.
"I prefer to win," Atwal said with a laugh.
Three more days like this, and he'll almost certainly take care of that.
Atwal started his bogey-free round on the back nine, made the turn at 4 under and birdied three of his final four holes, sinking a 7-foot putt on No. 9 to cap things.
His big day also included a rare birdie on the peskiest hole of the day â€” the 18th.
There were a course-low 10 birdies and a course-high 54 bogeys on the freshly lengthened, 507-yard par 4 that wound up knocking several players down a peg on the leaderboard.
Snedeker, who was at 8 under through 17, sent his second shot onto the back fringe on 18, chipped well past the pin and left his 35-foot par putt about 3 feet short to close with a bogey and fall off the lead.
"I realized that it's going to be a long tournament, a long week," Snedeker said. "A guy that shoots 9 under's not going to shoot 9 under for four straight rounds, so it's going to be kind of, wait until you get hot, and when you get hot, take advantage of it, and when you don't, try to minimize your mistakes."