Fort Worth Invitational: Lahiri T-19 after first round

Possessing a new putter in his bag, India’s Anirban Lahiri carded five birdies against two bogeys.

Anirban Lahiri was elated at his fruitful first round on Thursday.   -  Getty Images

Anirban Lahiri scored three birdies in a row to end up with a solid three-under 67 after the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational at the Colonial Country Club. Possessing a new putter in his bag, Lahiri carded five birdies against two bogeys and was T-19th.

The Indian continued his good form; he had finished with an eagle and a couple of birdies in his last three holes at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championships last week.

Lahiri, who finished T-6 in his debut appearance at the Colonial in 2016, missed the cut last year. The 30-year-old Indian was error free on the front nine as he followed up birdies on first three holes with a fourth on ninth by holing a huge putt from 32 feet.

He dropped a bogey on 12th and another on 14th, when he missed from inside six feet. But he finished the day with 25-footer for birdie on 18th and was three-under 67.

Shubhankar cards 73

Meanwhile, young Shubhankar Sharma, playing on an invite, suffered a disastrous triple on 15th, his sixth hole of the day. He had another bogey on 17th, but settled thereafter. He birdied the 10th and parred the entire back nine for a round of 73.

Kevin Na chipped in from 90 feet after two wayward shots on his closing hole, the ninth, to grab sole lead at eight-under 62, one clear of Charley Hoffman (63), who was also bogey free like Na.

‘One of the best days’

A satisfied Lahiri said, “Today was one of the best days I have had on the greens. I put a new putter in the bag [on Thursday] and it paid off. I got off to a great start. I hit it really close. I had a two-putt birdie to start with (on Par-5 first) and then hit it to four feet and one foot on two and three. Early in the day, the conditions were good, nice and soft. I had a lapse in concentration in the middle and missed a few greens. But I had good putt on ninth (32 feet).

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Analysing his two bogeys, Lahiri said, “Both bogeys came from the middle of the fairway. I missed a lot of greens on back nine. I hit good tee shots but put myself out of positions and gave away a few here. I need to work on that.”

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Lahiri’s biggest takeaway for the day was his putting. He said, “I was happy with the way I putted. It has been my biggest concern this season.”

‘Love this course’

Lahiri also fed off the good memories of this course; he had opened with a 65 in 2016, ending T-6. “I love this course. It reminds me of the Delhi Golf Club, where I have had a lot of success earlier in my career. I love the layout and the challenge,” he said.

“As for the heat, I enjoy playing in the heat as I have played a lot of my golf in hot conditions. The hotter it gets, the better it is for me and I just need to stay hydrated and fuel up myself,” he added.

Na had six pars to start with before he exploded with eight-under over last 12. He had three birdies in a row from 16th to 18th and followed that up with a tap-in eagle on first and a birdie on second. At that stage he was six-under for five holes and added two more on sixth and ninth.

5-under 65 for Stricker

Steve Stricker, the winner at Colonial in 2009, had considered withdrawing after feeling a back-ache on the fourth but stayed on and signed for a 5-under 65, three behind Na and two behind Hoffman. A new putter helped Hoffman have his lowest round of the season by three shots. He gained more than two strokes on the greens on Thursday. He dispatched the putter that he has used for the past five years for a heavier one.

Rickie Fowler shot 67 in the first round, which included four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 15th to first. Jordan Spieth opened with a 1-under 69, even as his putting struggles continued. He three-putted from nine feet on the sixth hole, his 15th of the day. Jon Rahm, second last year in his Colonial debut, shot 68.