Lahiri lands an eagle on way to 5-under 67 in Rd1 of PLAYERS Championship

Making his sixth start at the PGA Tour's flagship event, which carries a massive USD 20 million purse this year, Lahiri holed an eagle on a Par-4 on way to a 5-under 67, his best score at the event.

FILE PHOTO: Lahiri chipped in 125 yards for an eagle to get to 4-under. At the 237-yard par-3 eighth, Lahiri hit a tee shot 205 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 21-foot putt for birdie.   -  AP

Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri finally got a start he had been desperate for as he carded an impressive five-under 67, which included an eagle, in the weather-hit opening round of the prestigious PLAYERS Championship at the TPC Sawgrass here.

Making his sixth start at the PGA Tour's flagship event, which carries a massive USD 20 million purse this year, Lahiri holed an eagle on a Par-4 on way to a 5-under 67, his best score at the event.

On a day, when weather played spoilsport and delayed the start, Lahiri was fortunate to finish in near darkness and his 67 placed him one shot behind the clubhouse co-leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge, who shot 66 each.

Three other players apart from Lahiri shot 67, and they were Kramer Hickok, the in-form Joaquin Niemann and Keith Mitchell.

Lahiri hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation. Beginning on the 10th with a par, he had an eagle putt from 10 feet, but two-putted for birdie.

He played steadily for pars for the next four holes and then on Par-16th, he was on the fringe in two and two-putted from there for another birdie.

On the famous Par-3 17th, he had a four-foot putt for par but missed and the three-putt on the tricky green meant he turned in one-under.

On the 532-yard par-5 second hole, Lahiri reached the green in three and sunk a 9-foot putt for birdie to get to 2-under. Then came the sixth, where his drive went to the left side of the fairway on the 393-yard par-4 sixth hole.

Lahiri chipped in 125 yards for an eagle to get to 4-under. At the 237-yard par-3 eighth, Lahiri hit a tee shot 205 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 21-foot putt for birdie.

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Three of the 72 players who began in the morning were yet to complete their rounds, while none of the 60 from the afternoon had completed the round. Twelve players, including Indian-American Sahith Theegala, were yet to begin their first round.

"It feels really good," smiled Lahiri. "It was nice to actually make some of the momentum putts. Obviously, a big bonus when you see a ball disappear from the middle of the fairway. That was really nice on six (sixth hole)." "I think today's round was very close to how I've been playing the last few weeks. The only difference was I managed to keep it clean, and a couple of times that I got out of position, I managed to save par.

"It's very satisfying. Been working hard on trying to clean up my game, so it was nice to see it come together," he added.

In five previous appearances, Lahiri has missed four cuts four times and finished tied 74th in 2019. The current season, too, has been disappointing as his 12 starts have seen him miss seven cuts and T-40 is his best finish till now.

Lahiri said the key difference was that he put some weight on his irons.

"I think the biggest difference was we made a change to the irons this week. I changed the weight, and the irons have been my weak link. They came out much better. I feel like my confidence is getting better, which is really positive," said Lahiri.

"It's really something that's minor. I've added maybe 3 1/2 grams of weight to all of my irons. It sounds inconsequential, but it almost makes a 10, 12-yard difference in our line." He is still waiting for his first win on the PGA TOUR. His last global win was in 2015 at his home event, the Hero Indian Open.

It was a long 12-hour day for the players at the course and with his first round, he will get some rest on Friday morning.

"It's pretty much pitch dark. It was nice to get it in because the weather is not looking nice for tomorrow. It's probably going to be worse than today. So glad to have finished my round," he said.

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