Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, March 1: Anirban Lahiri holed everything inside 10 feet and a handful of big ones including a 30-footer as he got off to a flying start with three-under 67 to be Tied-sixth in the first round of the Honda Classic at the PGA National on Thursday night.
The Indian ace, playing his fourth successive season on the PGA Tour, hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation and seemed more comfortable than he has been all season on the greens.
Interestingly, Lahiri had seven birdies, which was the equal best for the first round. He also birdied two of three holes in the stretch called “The Bear’s Trap”. The Bear’s Trap is the stretch 15-16-17 and Lahiri birdied 15th and 16th with lengthy putts. His big blemish of the day was a trip into the water on the Par-4 436-yard 11th hole cost him a double bogey.
Lahiri hit his irons well to come inside 10 feet often and holed them all. In addition he had some big putts on third (21 feet), 15th (25 feet), 16th (17 feet) and 18th (31 feet). In between he had some misses with chances with putts between 10 and 15 feet. Overall, it showed a welcome return to form with the putter.
Lahiri is three shots behind leader Jhonattan Vegas (64), while Ernie Els, the captain of the President’s Cup team this year, showed he could even be in running for the team, as he carded four-under 66 to be tied second alongside Ben Silverman, Zach Johnson and Lucas Glover.
Lahiri rode a roller-coaster on the first four holes. He started with seven-foot birdie, followed by a bogey when he missed the green in regulation on second. He made up quickly with a 21-foot birdie on third, only to drop a shot on fourth where again he missed the green in regulation.
He got his first par on the fifth hole and did the same all the way till the ninth. On the back nine, he birdied 10th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th but had a double on 11th.
Lahiri’s double bogey was the result of a trip into the water with his second shot. His fourth shot following the penalty saw him get to 38 feet from where he two-putted for the double.
Leader Vegas made six birdies and no bogeys carding 6-under 64 to open a two-stroke lead as Glover bogeyed his finishing hole for a 66 and he was tied with Zach Johnson, Ernie Els and Ben Silverman.
Lahiri is tied for sixth in a group that has 14 players including Billy Horschel, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka.
Defending champion Justin Thomas shot 68 after an eventful day that saw him play the last eight holes without a 9-iron after it bent when he hit it against a tree.