Lahiri cards bogey-free 65 to make cut easily at Safeway

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NAPA, Sept 12 (PTI): Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri equalled his best round in nearly 22 months with a bogey-free 65 that ensured him a place in the weekend rounds of the Safeway Open at the Silverado Resort.

Lahiri’s 65 followed his first round 74. At five-under 139, he is Tied-54 in the low-scoring season opener for the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. It was only Lahiri”s third round in the 60s in this calendar year.

Lahiri is 10 shots behind leader Sam Burns, who also shot a 65 and is now 15-under with Harry Higgs, who ended the day in style with an albatross on his closing ninth for a 10-under 62 and a total of 13-under.

Lahiri, going through a lean patch and winless worldwide since the Hero Indian Open in 2015, had a seven-foot birdie to go 8-under for the day but missed it.

Yet his 7-under 65, one of the four such rounds during the day, was bettered only by Higgs.

Since his 65 on the first day of the Mayakoba Classic in November 2018, the last time he finished in Top-10, Lahiri’s best has been 66. He shot 66 three times — in the Bermuda Championship in November 2019, and at the RSM Classic and American Express events.

Lahiri’s 64 on the first day of the 2018 World Cup of Golf in Melbourne two weeks after Mayakoba, came in a best-ball format with Gaganjeet Bhullar.

Needing a low round to survive the cut, Lahiri found only six of the 14 fairways but was dialled in with his irons and approach shots as he reached the green on 14 of the 18 holes.

Beginning with a 19-foot birdie on the first, he added further gains on the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth to turn in 5-under 31. He hit close to the pins, leaving seven feet or less for birdies and he holed them.

On the back nine, Lahiri continued his march as he holed a 26-foot birdie on Par-3 11th to get to 6-under and birdied from five feet on 16th. On the holes in between, he got his first putt close enough for tap-ins before letting go off a seven-foot birdie chance on 18th.

“It will do. The game looked good and I just need to keep the focus. This is a course which is giving low scores so each shot is vital,” he said.

Two American golfers of Indian origin, 18-year-old Akshay Bhatia (66-72) at T-34th and 23-year-old Sahith Theegala (71-78) at T-54th also made the cut.

Burns overcame an early double bogey on the 11th after starting from the tenth. He recovered with nine birdies and closed the day with a birdie on ninth for a 65.

First-round leader Russell Knox (69), Cameron Percy (68) and D J Trahan (65) were 12 under. James Hahn (65) and Doug Ghim (66) were 11 under. Phil Mickelson (67) was 6-under as he prepares for next week”s US Open at Winged Foot.

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