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PLAYERS Championship: Lahiri plays safe, returns in morning for one putt to sign for 2-under 70

By Pti
Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri

Ponte Vedra (Florida), March 15: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri came back to complete his unfinished opening round, that was just one putt an inch short of four feet, to be placed tied 35th with a score of two-under 70 at the PLAYERS Championship here.

Lahiri is now tied 35th alongside the likes of Tiger Woods and defending champion Webb Simpson.

"After spending almost five-and-a-half hours working hard, I did not want to take a risk on a four-footer in near darkness, where I could barely see the cup. It was windy and I did not want to take chances and fritter a shot," said the Indian, who was two-under through 17-and-a-half holes and then completed the round with one quick putt.

Half an hour later he was off for his second round. Lahiri is hoping to make the cut at the PLAYERS Championship for the first time, as he missed out on three previous occasions.

Lahiri's best opening round of 69 came last year but his second round 75 let him down as he miss the cut. Lahiri was playing in the final group of the afternoon session, when the conditions were particularly tough with swirling winds.

"When I got to the course in the afternoon and began playing, I was beginning to wonder if I was playing the same course as in the morning. I think I played solid to be two-under with one more putt for par on 18th," said Lahiri, whose past three visits to the TPC Sawgrass have lasted only two rounds each.

Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley, who co-lead after 36 holes last week at Palmer Invitational, were sharing after first day honours at 65 each. A good number of the low scores came in the morning and notable among them were Korean An Byeong-Hun's 66 and Rory McIlory's five-under 67.

McIlroy, who has been sixth or better in his last six starts and has been knocking on the doors of a win, was tied 4th at 67 along with Vaugh Taylor and Ryan Moore, who aced the iconic Par-3 17th at the Island Green.

Woods seemed set for a good start as he birdied 16th and 17th to get to three-under but he bogeyed the 18th to fall to two-under 70. The last bogey left a bad taste in the mouth for the two-time winner.

Lahiri had a good start with a birdie on second and then barring a bogey on eighth, he stayed clear of any punishing errors. Lahiri opened the day with a birdie on first and added two more on 11th and 15th. But the most satisfying part was that he kept his bogeys to just one, on the par-3 eighth.

"The greens got dry quicker than I thought. I played last out in the afternoon two years ago and I just feel bad for the guys who are going out last tomorrow. It'll be near impossible on the greens," said Lahiri.

Lahiri nailed a nice birdie on par-5 second from seven feet following a fine chip form nearly 70 yards. He missed a birdie possibility on sixth from just under 10 feet. On the very next hole, the seventh, he did well to save par from just under 11 feet after his first putt rolled down way past the hole.

He was not as fortunate on the eighth, where he missed the green and went into the greenside bunker from where he got out to 12 feet but missed the par putt.

Lahiri's playing partner and friend, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, had a very rough day despite a birdie start. He finished at 12-over 84 and ended his last three holes with a bogey-double bogey and triple bogey.

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    Story first published: Friday, March 15, 2019, 21:12 [IST]
    Other articles published on Mar 15, 2019
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