Lahiri savours magical ace at The Open, bad day for Jeev

Anirban LahiriLytham St Annes, England: Anirban Lahiri’s maiden Major appearance at The Open Championship keeps getting better and better.

After successfully making the halfway cut, the talented 25-year-old Indian fired a magical hole-in-one at the par three ninth en route to a level par 70 at the Royal Lytham and St Annes for a three-day total of 210.

He sank the Open’s first ace of the tournament with a nine iron which drew rapturous roars from the large galleries at the Lancashire links.

“Just when I thought that it was fantastic, it gets even better. Like I said right from the start, it's just been fantastic. That's probably the icing on the cake today,” said a delighted Lahiri.

“You're just looking around, you don't know how to express yourself, and then you see your dad jumping up out there blowing you kisses. These moments don't come every day.”

The two-time Asian Tour winner, rated as being amongst the next generation of stars to emerge from Asia, bogeyed the third and fourth holes before finding his first birdie at the eighth. Then came his moment of brilliance.

“I walked up to that tee just having made birdie on eight, which was very important to me and it was almost exactly the same yardage as yesterday.  And I was in between clubs again.  Yesterday I hit the wedge instead of a nine iron, and found a greenside trap and made bogey.

“I just told my caddie, we'll take the nine, it doesn't matter if it goes past (the hole), I'll just hit it soft. Made a good swing on it.  It was looking a little right of the hole, but it got a really, really friendly bounce. I was just hoping it ended up close.  When it goes in, everybody goes wild, I go wild, it was fantastic,” said Lahiri.

The Indian said his father, who is a doctor in the Indian army, has kept the golf ball which he used for the ace, which was the fourth of his career in tournament play.

“I don't think anybody can take that (ball) away from him,” said Lahiri. “I think he's thinking right now what he can do with it.  Let's see how creative he is.”

Currently tied 20 with the leaders still out on the course, Lahiri is hoping to conclude what is already memorable week strongly on Sunday.

“This is probably, you know, it's a hallowed event for us.  You come out here and you just want to play your best. You want to put up a good performance for yourself, for your country.  And so far I think I've done justice to that, and I'm really happy about that,” he said.

“Even par is in a good spot. A good round tomorrow will give me a chance to climb up the leaderboard. I'm really looking forward to that. I can't ask for anything more than an opportunity, and I'm glad I put myself in that position.”

He has relied upon his meditation to keep in him in the present, although admittedly, the excitement of playing well in his first Open appearance has been difficult to contain.

“Yeah, I've been doing it this week, and it helps me stay calm. I think I was getting a bit   I won't say agitated, but I was getting a bit overeager on the front nine after dropping two shots. I felt like I was playing really good, and I found myself a couple over par. And that can happen on this course.  If you find the wrong spots it's very difficult to recover,” said Lahiri.

In contrast, countryman Jeev Milkha Singh endured a day to forget as he shot a 76 to fall all the way back on the leaderboard.

“Didn’t enjoy it at all. A lot of bad iron shots, a lot of bad putts. Just wasn’t there today. Just one of those days which wasn’t good. I started pushing and it went the other way. On the range, I felt pretty good. Just didn’t hit the ball well today. That was it,” said Singh.