Mixed emotions for Anirban Lahiri after opening 69 at The Open

Anirban Lahiri OpenTroon, Scotland: India’s Anirban Lahiri endured mixed feelings after an opening two-under-par at The Open on Thursday, ruing a cold putter at Royal Troon.

The 29-year-old reigning Asian Tour number one needed 33 putts to negotiate the greens and ended the day in tied 22nd position, six shots behind runaway leader Phil Mickelson of the United States.

The tenacious Lahiri, playing alongside Sergio Garcia and Keegan Bradley, started strongly with three birdies and a bogey over his opening six holes but failed to take advantage of near benign conditions in the year’s third Major.

“I think I played pretty good but left a few opportunities out there on the back nine. It was a good day to score, the wind died down. I had a few good looks but didn’t convert. I’m a bit disappointed with not shooting a couple under on the back nine but I’m quite happy with the way I played as I found a lot of fairways especially on a lot of the tighter holes and found a lot of greens. That’s a good sign hopefully,” said Lahiri, who is making his fourth appearance at The Open.

He was pleased he stayed focused despite the frustration of watching birdie putts stay out of the cup over his last 11 holes.

“I hit a couple of good putts early on. Two was a good one for me and I made a good save on three after finding the fairway bunker. That felt like a birdie,” he said.

“I had a lot of looks from 25 feet and a couple from inside 10 feet. Made good strokes but didn’t find the bottom of the cup. I focused pretty well. When you’re coming home, you can’t afford to get frustrated. If you do that, you try to push too hard, the course can bite you.”

Seeking to improve on a top-five finish at the PGA Championship last August which is his best Major outing, Lahiri was happy he got the bogeys off the card coming home. He got up and down to save par at the tough par three 17th hole and then made a good two-putt par on 18 from long distance after an errant drive.

“In the last two holes that I didn’t play solid, it was nice to not drop shots as I wasn’t in position,” said Lahiri.

“I was expecting the winds to pick up and with the sunshine all day, I thought the greens would get a little firmer but they didn’t. In a sense, it was a good draw to play in the afternoon. Whatever conditions tomorrow you just have to go out and play it. It’s the same for everyone.”

Mickelson endured a close brush at golfing history when he lipped out a birdie attempt on 18 for a first ever 62 in a Major, which Lahiri could only marvel.

“It’s pretty special. It’s not easy to shoot that kind of score regardless of what the condition may be. It was a phenomenal round,” said the Indian.