India’s top golfer Anirban Lahiri put up an impressive show with a 3-under 69 to be tied 10th on the opening day of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau, Bahamas. (Read More in Golf)
Lahiri, who was paired with the defending champion and world number one Jordon Spieth, started on the right note with a one-under on the first hole and kept the momentum going at the Albany Golf Club.
Spieth, 22, was in top form as he got an ace on the second hole much to the delight of the spectators and Lahiri gave him a high five.
The action continued with an elite field of 18 top golfers as Paul Casey birdied the final hole for a 6-under 66 that gave him a share of the first-round lead with Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson.
Casey is among five players in this field of top-50 players.
“The only blemish I can think of is maybe I left a putt short on line, which is a little criminal. Other than that, I played some really, really nice golf,” Casey said after the day’s play.
Spieth made a hole-in-one with a 6-iron and finally added a birdie on a par 5 to join a large group at 67 T-4 that included Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, Brooks Kopeka and Adam Scott, who lives at Albany.
If Spieth’s ace was the talk of the opening day’s action, then Lahiri’s cool play also kept the Indian fans glued to his progress on his debut appearance in the event.
Lahiri, who got a sponsor’s exemption play alongwith Haas, stayed tied with Patrick Reed and Chris Kirk.
The Bengaluru-based player also dropped a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th hole to make his presence felt on the tough course.
His play also included a bogey on the par-5 ninth when he hit a sand wedge out of the dunes that went over the green and over some 25 yards of water near the 18th fairway.
Lahiri, 28, earned his PGA TOUR card for the 2015-16 season and made headlines in 2015 after winning twice worldwide, including the Hero Indian Open. He also became the first Indian player to feature in the Presidents Cup in October.
Meanwhile Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (75) was the only player in the 18-man field who did not break par.
The low-scoring first round can also be attributed to the weather as the day saw least number of rounds over par and there had been no shortage of rounds in the upper 70s and 80s.
The World Challenge, which is being hosted by the Tiger Woods Foundation, is being played outside US for the first time. It was at Isleworth last year in Florida, and at Sherwood Country Club in California for 14 years.
“When we started rolling the greens and mowing them down at tournament height, and then the sun came out, we had a situation in a lot of places where you could not differentiate between the collar and the green,” said Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice-president of competition.
“Rather than put the players in a situation where they were going to have a problem, we took care of it,” he said.