India’s top golfer Anirban Lahiri shot six-under 66, which by the end of the day, saw him placed third at the culmination of the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship.
Lahiri was one shot behind joint leaders Steve Wheatcroft and Andrew Loupe on a cool and breezy day at the Quail Hollow, which will host the 2017 PGA Championships.
Lahiri had three birdies on either side of the course. The Indian was especially pleased to have handled the finishing stretch well.
The last three holes, considered to be among the toughest finishing stretches on the PGA Tour, fetched him a birdie on 16th and pars on 17th and 18th, the last being particularly satisfying with a 12-foot putt to ensure he had a bogey-free card.
On the 15th, he had holed a 17-footer for birdie.
Lahiri said:”I hit some good iron shots on the front nine to birdie fourth and sixth, which were playing quite tough. I was also putting solid.”
“Anytime you have a bogey-free card, it’s fantastic,” said Lahiri. “I’ve played mediocre or average golf the last few months. I definitely feel like I should be competing more consistently.”
The final stretch at Quail Hollow is never easy, and speaking about he added:”Just towards the end, I had a good putt on 15th (for a birdie from 17 feet), it was downwind on 16th and I wedged it close (for a birdie). Then I was pretty happy to save that par on 18th (from 12 feet).
“It was a tricky putt. There are not too many easy putts, you have to be very attentive to the slopes but there is also a lot of green. When I came on Tuesday, I was a little bit at sea, now I am feeling at home.”
Some of the other big names struggled a bit on the first day. Phil Mickelson overcame two bogeys on front nine to shoot 69 and was tied 9th and Rickie Fowler shot one-under 71 to be tied 30th.
But defending champion Rory McIlroy, who rallied from four-over 13 to a finish of one-over 73, was way down. Also shooting 73 and sharing tied 75th place with McIlroy was Adam Scott. Hideki Matsuyama and Ernie Els with 74 were further behind.
Talking of his first time at the Quail Hollow, which will host the 2017 PGA Championships, Lahiri said,”I have been leading up to a good solid round even the scores have not been as consistent. The work we did, my coach Vijay (Divecha) and I did together (after the Masters) is helping and it is beginning to come together and its showing. I am still working on a few adjustments, so I am looking to build on it through the week.”
As for the conditions and adjusting to them, he added,”I think the way the course was playing in morning, it was windy, raining and freezing, it was not going very far, but needed to keep chipping away.”
Lahiri is currently ranked 55th in the world and is not in the field for next week’s Players Championships, but he could get in by winning this week.
Still a good finish will ensure staying inside top-60 to play the US Open next month.