Lahiri tied 2nd after halfway stage in 2nd round

A bogey-free three-under 67 gave Lahiri a good start in the opening round.

Anirban Lahiri opened with a birdie and then, had 10 pars before finding further birdies on 12th and 18th.   -  AFP

Anirban Lahiri was on fire in the second round after a solid 69 in his first round Greenbrier Classic. A bogey-free three-under 67 gave Lahiri a good start in the opening round. Then, he had four birdies in first five holes to move to seven-under and was tied-2nd at one stage. He has still has more than nine holes to play in the second round.

The 31-year-old Indian, who has been slowly coming into the form that fetched him two top-10 finishes and some other good results at the start of the wrap-around season last October, opened with a birdie and then, had 10 pars before finding further birdies on 12th and 18th.

In the second round, he had three in a row to start the day with birdies from 15 feet, 12 feet and 19 feet. He parred the 13th, his fourth hole of the second day, and then, again holed 14-footer for his fourth birdie.

On Thursday, despite the fine start, Lahiri was lying tied 24th with Webb Simpson, who shot nine-under 61 to lead the field by a shot over Whee Kim. It was Simpson’s best career score and it came after waiting out a two-hour weather delay with six holes left in his round.

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He came up short in his bid to shoot the eighth sub-60 round on the PGA TOUR. He needed birdies on the par-five 17th and the par-three 18th for a 59, but found only pars on both.

Kim had six birdies and two bogeys, which were back-to-back between the second and ninth, and on back nine he had four more birdies for a total of 10 birdies and two bogeys in his 62. The 26-year-old Kim has never won on the PGA TOUR.

Teenager Joaquin Niemann of Chile was another stroke back at seven-under 63. Kelly Kraft carded 64, while Jason Kokrak, Keegan Bradley and J.J. Henry were at 65.

Simpson, whose four-shot victory at THE PLAYERS Championship in May was his first win in more than four years, finished third here in 2014 and lost a one-stroke lead on the back nine in the final round in 2011 and 2012.

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Defending champion Xander Schauffele was among a large group at four-under 66, which includes Phil Mickelson, playing in his first tournament since the U.S. Open.

Bubba Watson, starting on the back nine, hurt his wrist on a bunker shot on No. 11 and finished the round and shot two-under 68.

In Kuching

Gaganjeet Bhullar, who was tied 3rd last week in the Queens Cup, moved into contention once again with a superb six-under 66, which carried him to 14-under at the Sarawak Championship, here, on Friday.

Bhullar was three behind the leader Paul Peterson of the US who posted a bogey-free three-under-par 69 to hold a narrow one-shot lead over countryman John Catlin in the third round.

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Bhullar had rounds of 68-68 on first two days and is now in prime position to make a charge for his first win this season and the ninth on Asian Tour in his career. Bhullar had seven birdies, four on front nine and three on back nine against just a solitary bogey on Par-three eighth.

Among other Indians, Himmat Rai (68-67-70) was tied 11th and Ajeetesh Sandhu (68-71-67) was tied 16th. S. Chikkarangappa (70-67-70) was tied 19th, while Khalin Joshi (68-70-71) and Honey Baisoya (71-69-69) were tied 31st.

The other two Indians who made the cut were Aman Raj (74) at tied 44th and Jeev Milkha Singh (73) at tied 53rd. Rashid Khan (75) was tied 63, while Viraj Madappa, Chiragh Kumar and M. Dharma missed the cut.

Bhullar said, “I hit the ball really good. I hit all the fairways and missed only three greens. Overall, it was a good day in terms of ball striking. I got off to a good start, with two birdies, and that gave me a lot of boost and confidence."

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“I’m happy to be in this position. I’ve been striking the ball really good in the last four months. The trick is all mental now. If I’m able to do the same thing in the last few days, I will be happy with my game.”

“Golf is a funny sport and anything is possible. Everybody is giving their 100 per cent and so am I. I’ll go out there and do my best. Game-wise, I’m feeling really confident and I’ve been converting a lot of good scores, and giving myself a lot of opportunities.”

Bhullar opened with birdie-birdie and then had three pars. He followed up with birdies on sixth and seventh and dropped his only shot on the eighth. On the back nine, he birdied on the 10th, 12th and 17th.

Peterson, who won his first Asian Tour title in January, fired three birdies on his homeward nine to hold on to his lead for the third straight day on 17-under-par 199 at the Damai Golf and Country Club.