Debutant Lahiri enjoys dream start with a 68 at British Open

Anirban LahiriLytham St Annes, England: Indian prospect Anirban Lahiri enjoyed a memorable debut at The Open Championship with a bogey-free 68 to lie four shots behind leader Adam Scott of Australia after the first round on Thursday.

The 25-year-old credited a hot putter for his superb start at Royal Lytham and St Annes, holing several long efforts to keep the bogeys off his card in the year’s third Major. Lahiri, a two-time Asian Tour winner, got off to a flying start with a five-foot birdie and then rattled in a 25-footer on the 13th hole.

“It’s a dream start for a first Open. Bogey free round with a 68, I’ll take that any day. I was really nervous out there on the first tee. But I hit probably the best shot of the day to five feet and made the putt,” said Lahiri, who ended the day in tied 14th place.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start. Every time I hit it into a bad position, my putter helped me out. It saved me a lot of shots as I holed at least three or four shots outside of 20 feet. That’s what you need on a course like this to keep your round together. It’s not easy to make a whole bunch of birdies. On the back nine, I hit it good. I could have made one or two more but I’ll take it.”

With a late 4pm tee time, Lahiri spent his morning watching the early action and learned a few tricks which he said helped him put together a solid start.

“My caddie told me to watch some of the Open and get a feel of how things are reacting. It can help you save some shots if you find some players repeating a pattern on a certain hole. It helped me out today,” said Lahiri, who won the SAIL-SBI Open earlier this year.

“I saw Tiger hit some inspiring chips. He hit a great chip on the fifth hole and I had a similar shot on the third and I imagined it and hit a great chip as well.”

With his father in the small gallery following his group, Lahiri struggled off the tee on the front nine and hit only one fairway. He scrambled superbly but knows he must be sharper off the tee in the second round to keep his magical run going.

“I’m feeling good about my game. Even though I missed a few fairways, I recovered and didn’t make any crazy mistakes which you can do on this course. I hit it badly off the tee. I think I found one fairway on the front nine but hit the last four coming in. It was a struggle. When I got to the tee, it was a little warm and half an hour later, it golf cooler. Suddenly I wasn’t timing it. I’m happy I managed to pull it back and keep myself in it. It was a big grind,” said Lahiri, who outscored countryman Jeev Milkha Singh by two shots.