India’s Anirban Lahiri made a fine start, but still left with a feeling that it could have been way better but for the putter on the opening day of the Open late on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Indian star, shot two-under 69, but the round at Royal Troon needed no less than 33 putts. His 69 left him in tied 22nd position, six shots behind the superb card of eight-under 63 by veteran Phil Mickelson.

Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed shot 66 each to be three behind Mickelson, while a huge bunch of eight players, including defending champion Zach Johnson also got off to great starts with four-under 67 each. As many as 74 players shot par or under.

However, Masters champion Danny Willett and Jordan Spieth managed only even par 71 each. Lahiri, played with Sergio Garcia (68) and Keegan Bradley (67), who had better cards.

Lahiri had a fine start with three birdies against one bogey in first six holes. But with his putter not doing his bidding, Lahiri was unable to make the benign and good scoring conditions count, as he missed a lot of makeable putts.

“I think I played pretty good but left a few opportunities out there on the back nine. It was a good day to score, the wind died down. I had a few good looks but didn’t convert. I’m a bit disappointed with not shooting a couple under on the back nine but I’m quite happy with the way I played as I found a lot of fairways especially on a lot of the tighter holes and found a lot of greens.

“That’s a good sign hopefully,” said Lahiri, who is making his fourth appearance at The Open.

Mickelson’s round ‘phenomenal’

He added he was pleased that he stayed focused and did not waver despite the frustration of seeing birdie putts not dropping.

He added, “I hit a couple of good putts early on. Two was a good one for me and I made a good save on three after finding the fairway bunker. That felt like a birdie.”

“I had a lot of looks from 25 feet and a couple from inside 10 feet. Made good strokes but didn’t find the bottom of the cup. I focused pretty well. When you’re coming home, you can’t afford to get frustrated. If you do that, you try to push too hard, the course can bite you.”

But Lahiri also added, “In the last two holes, that I didn’t play solid, it was nice to not drop shots as I wasn’t in position.”

He got up and down to save par at the tough par three 17th hole and then made a good two-putt par on 18.

Lahiri’s best at an Open is Tied-30 last year and his best in a Major is Tied-fifth at the 2015 PGA Championship. At the top, Mickelson came close to golfing history when he lipped out a birdie attempt on 18 for a first ever 62 in a Major.

Lahiri commented on Mickelson, saying, “It’s pretty special. It’s not easy to shoot that kind of score regardless of what the condition may be. It was a phenomenal round.”

Korea’s Soomin Lee emerged as the best Asian performer in the first round, shooting an impressive three-under-par 68 in his Major debut. Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee birdied the 18th hole to begin his campaign at The Open with a level par 71 as did Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand.

Both were tied Tied-51st. But there was disappointment for countryman Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang with 75 each.



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