Lahiri lies 59th at Augusta Masters after first round

Anirban Lahiri was Tied-59th and will need to produce a strong second round to make the cut which falls at 50 plus ties or be not more than 10 shots outside the leader.

Anirban Lahiri: "It was a bad finish, like a kick in the stomach. I think I played decently till that point (17th hole)."   -  AP (File Photo)

Anirban Lahiri held up well in windy weather and difficult scoring conditions till a couple of errant shots left him at four-over 76 at the end of the opening round of the 80th Masters at Augusta National. Lahiri was Tied-59th and will need to produce a strong second round to make the cut which falls at 50 plus ties or be not more than 10 shots outside the leader.

One of the late afternoon groups to tee off at the Augusta National, Lahiri was even par through 15 holes with two birdies and two bogeys, when he crashed at the 16th with a painful triple bogey and another bogey on the 17th left him shaking his head in disappointment. The 28-year-old will need to work a lot in the second round to make his second successive cut at the year’s first Major.

“It was a bad finish, like a kick in the stomach. I think I played decently till that point. I had chances, but didn’t make anything (putts) outside 4-5 feet on the greens, except on the 14th, where I holed a 15-footer for birdie. Still, I felt I was hanging in well till the 16th.”

Even as the defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a flying start with a bogey free six-under 66, a lot of other favourites struggled on the opening day, none more Rickie Fowler, one of the probable contenders before the event, and Ernie Els, who shot 80 each.

Lahiri went into the water on 15th but recovered well to make par with a nice up-and-down. On the Par-3 16th, where players try to skip the ball over the water in practice rounds to regale the gallery, Lahiri went into the water. He took a drop just ahead of the tee box and then hit what was his third shot to 40 feet from the hole. It was a tough downhill and he ended with a triple.

Little recovery

He could barely recover when he missed another makeable par on 17th and all the good work had been washed away. “I felt I put myself in a good spot with some good recoveries despite not putting well enough. I am not sure what happened on 16th, probably tried too hard and pulled it. Anyway if the conditions stay as hard tomorrow, when I go out in the morning, I can pull myself up with a good round while scoring stays as it was today,” said Lahiri.

Fowler opened with a double and made up with three birdies in next four holes and then unraveled with four bogeys, another double and a triple, while Els never recovered from a quintuple bogey and then had two birdies, three bogeys and a double. Two-time champion Bubba Watson shot 75, while Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Parick Reed, Jason Dufner, Darren Clarke and Justin Thomas were all giving company to Lahiri at Tied-59th with 76s.

Spieth, 22, winner of the Masters and US Open in 2015, birdied third, sixth and eighth on the front nine and added three more on 10th, 13th and 18th holes.

Yet, Spieth said, “I would have signed for 2-under today and not even played the round, knowing the conditions that were coming up. (But) Got a lot out of the round with what I felt like was kind of average-ish ball-striking. Just scored the ball extremely well, which is something I've been struggling with this season.

'Pleased'

“I feel like my game’s been trending in the right direction, I just haven’t gotten scores out of how I felt I’d been playing. That normally just comes down to putting. Certainly made a lot of putts today. If I can kind of straighten things out with the iron play, hopefully we’ll be in business. But, yeah, I am extremely pleased with that round today. I felt like we stole a few.” The fact he made no bogeys, pleased him even more.

Danny Lee of New Zealand and Shane Lowry of Ireland were two behind Spieth, while there was a big bunch including Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Soren Kjeldsen shared the fourth spot on 69.

World No. 1 Jason Day of Australia was tied 21st with an even-par 72, while No.3 Rory McIlroy scored 70 to be joint ninth.