Anirban Lahiri made a superb birdie-birdie start but was unable to keep the momentum going, finishing Tied-23rd in the second round of the Valspar Championship here.
After consecutive birdies on 10th and 11th, Lahiri gave away shots on 16th and 18th. On his second nine, he birdied second and eighth but bogeyed fourth and seventh to finish the day at even par 71 at Innisbrook.
With the scoring being low, Lahiri looks set for a good finish with his two-day total of one-under 141. He is five shots behind the leader. The cut fell at one-over 143.
Paul Casey (70-66), the defending champion, played wonderfully on Friday for a round of 66 that puts him at six-under 136, the same as Austin Cook (69-67).
Casey holed a 30-foot eagle putt on the 599-yard fifth hole and made short birdie putts on the other three par 5s on his way to a 5-under 66. He is trying to win back-to-back titles at the Valspar Championship, something no one has done since it became a PGA TOUR event in 2000.
Scott Stallings (68) and Sungjae Im (67) were one shot behind, while Dustin Johnson overcame a rough patch early in his round with five birdies on the front nine to salvage a 69. Johnson was two shots behind on a Copperhead course he hasn’t seen in nine years.
Joel Dahmen (66-72) and Sepp Straka (66-76), who shared the 18-hole lead at 5-under, were among those playing in the afternoon. Dahmen was Tied-6th, while Straka slipped to Tied-35.
There was also focus on the 17-year-old Akshay Bhatia who made his PGA TOUR debut. He is playing on a sponsor exemption and was at 3-under for the day and even par for the tournament through eight holes until a muffed chip and a missed putt led to a double bogey at No. 9 that killed his momentum.
Bhatia (76-72) bogeyed his last two holes for a 72 and finished at 4-over 146 to miss the cut. He plans to turn pro later this year after the Walker Cup if he makes the team.
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