Golf: India's Arjun Atwal trying to play well for pal Tiger Woods

Arjun Atwal tees off on the 1st hole during the second round of the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms in Potomac, Maryland, USA, on June 30, 2017.
Arjun Atwal tees off on the 1st hole during the second round of the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms in Potomac, Maryland, USA, on June 30, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

Potomac, Washington (AFP) - Arjun Atwal is not even ranked among the world's top 1,000 golfers, but the 44-year-old from India is carrying the hopes of a legend this week - Tiger Woods.

Atwal, a long-time Florida neighbour and practice partner of Woods, fired a three-under-par 67 on Friday to stand among the second-round leaders at the PGA National on five-under 135 at TPC Potomac.

"I don't even know, seriously," he said when asked how he did it. "I haven't really played much golf this year.

"I haven't really been playing that much. This is only my fifth tournament of the year... So I'm a little tired, but we'll see."

One player sure to be watching is Woods, the 14-time Major winner whose charity foundation stages this week's event in suburban Washington.

The 41-year-old is absent this week while continuing treatment to manage medications for back pain and a sleep disorder. The former world No. 1 turned to "professional help" after a May arrest for impaired driving.

He provided a third consecutive sponsor's exemption this week for 1,008th-ranked Atwal, who was 72nd in 2015 and 64th last year on different courses but is excited to be near the top now.

"It's awesome," Atwal said. "I've been talking to him almost every day and obviously he's one of my better best friends.

"He wants me to play well. He has given me an invite almost the last three years every year, so I'm hoping I won't let him down."