Late birdies mitigate outing for Lahiri

Unable to find birdies the way he did during his 66-66 start on first two days, Anirban Lahiri still managed four-under 68 with a late burst that saw birdies on 15th and 17th holes, at the DP World Tour Championships in Dubai.

Despite knee trouble, Lahiri nailed as many as six birdies.   -  AP (File Photo)

Anirban Lahiri battled for a good part of the day but managed to keep himself afloat with three birdies over the last five holes to finish even par and stayed at four-under for 54 holes at the DP World Tour Championships golf here today. Starting the day at overnight 23rd place, Lahiri with a total of 212 slipped to tied-35th. Andy Sullivan, who went into joint lead after first day, has stayed in sole lead thereafter.

Unable to find birdies the way he did during his 66-66 start on first two days, he still managed four-under 68 with a late burst that saw birdies on 15th and 17th holes. At 16-under, he was one clear of last year's Race to Dubai winner, Rory McIlroy (65) and three ahead of Patrick Reed (68), who was in the third place.

Lahiri, who was in obvious discomfort because of his knee, where an old ailment to have flared up, said: "It was a weird day, as I struggled a bit with my knee." Lahiri faced some niggles with an old knee injury, which occurred some two years ago. "I don't think it is bad, but I have to go and see it, when I get back. I have one more start and then I will get some good rest and work on my rehab," said Lahiri.

Despite the discomfort, Lahiri nailed as many as six birdies. He, though, gave away four bogeys and a double bogey. "As I said, I am not playing bad. I got six birdies, and missed a couple of makable birdie putts like on 17th from eight feet. You don't drop as many as six shots. You may drop a couple, but not six. And the golf course is not playing tough," he said.

On his overall play, Lahiri, winner of Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open this year, said, "It was up and down. It was hard. I wasn't swinging too well to start with (but still had birdies on second and third). But from fifth to 14th, particularly it was so bad that I didn't even sniff a green and I missed so many regulations. Then over the last five holes, I made a couple of technical changes in my swing that took the pressure off my knee and it helped.

'Happy to have finished well'

"I was happy as I finished well on the difficult closing stretch. I was two-under for last three and it could have been three-under, but for the eight-foot miss on 17th," he said.

Lahiri, who finally got a proper caddie after using a local golfer on the bag, opened with a bogey on the first, but back-to-back birdies raised visions of a upward move.

Thereafter, Lahiri bogeyed fourth and sixth, but got one back on ninth. After the turn, he dropped a bogey and a double on successive holes to suddenly go three-over for the day. But he salvaged the day with birdies on 14th, 16th and 18th before missing a birdie chance on 17th.

Meanwhile, Korea's An Byeong-Hun (66), leading the race to become the European Tour Rookie of the Year award, was tied fourth at 12-under and he was joined by Argentine Emiliano Grillo (71), who after being three-over through 14 holes, finished in style with four birdies on the trot to put himself back in contention.

Even as An Byeong is bidding to become the first Asian player to win the European Tour Rookie of the Year award, Thongchai Jaidee (69) is in contention despite a closing bogey on 18th. He was tied sixth alongside Danny Willett, who after a slow start was four-under for last five holes, and Mathew Fitzpatrick (68), who is engaged in a duel with An Byeong for the Rookie Honours.

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