Anirban Lahiri, making his first appearance in a WGC event since shot a fine 5-under 65 to position himself in Tied-7th place at the end of the first day of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
Landing six birdies against one solitary bogey, Lahiri was three shots behind the leader two-time WGC winner, Ian Poulter, whose 8-under 62 tied the record for lowest first-round score in WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
India’s other player in the field, Shubhankar Sharma shot 2-over 72 and was Tied-63rd in the 71-man field. Sharma had two birdies against four bogeys in his third WGC appearance.
Tiger Woods, T-6 at the Open last month, and an eight-time winner at Firestone, opened with a 66 to sit at T-14.
Woods beginning on No. 10, sank a 50-foot birdie putt from off the green at No. 18 to make the turn in 3-under 32. His only bogey of the day came at his last hole, No. 9.
Englishman Poulter produced his lowest round in eight years with eight birdies and no bogeys as favourable scoring conditions resulted in a lot of low scores. Poulter’s 62 was his best since 2010 UBS Hong Kong Open, where he had a second-round 60 enroute to lifting the trophy.
Americans Kyle Stanley and Rickie Fowler were in a tie for second on seven under par after shooting opening 63s, while Spain's Jon Rahm, American Patrick Cantlay and South Korea's Si Woo Kim were then another stroke back on six under.
Lahiri and six others Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Marc Leishman, Luke List and Kevin Na shot 65 each to be T-7.
The 65 was Lahiri’s lowest round at Firestone and his lowest opening round this season. This is his third appearance in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational where he finished T53 and T33 in 2016 and 2015 respectively. He was T5 after the opening round in 2016 following a 68.
Playing his ninth WGC, he has been T-28 three times for his best WHGC result.
Chasing his first win on the PGA Tour, Lahiri this season has had three top-10s at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in South Korea and Travellers Championship. Lahiri is chasing a first victory on the PGA TOUR.
Lahiri’s play was a mix of great second shots and when he did miss the green in regulation he chipped well enough to find up and downs and pars. He missed only one chip on the 10th after missing the fairway and did not have a good lie. He made his only bogey there.
Barring the birdie putt on ninth from 15 feet, the rest of the birdies came from well inside 10 feet, highlighting some good iron play.
Defending WGC-Bridgestone Invitational champion Hideki Matsuyama opened with a 3-under 67 for T-21. FedExCup points leader and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson opened with a 1-under 69 for T-39, while The Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari (70) was T-46.
Among other Asians, Korean Si Woo Kim 64 at T-4th and China’s Haotong Li (66) at T-14 began well.
About the Author
V Krishnaswamy is India's most widely travelled journalist. He has covered more than 20 Majors, Presidents Cup, EurAsia Cup and more than 120 international golf tournaments around the world. He has also covered seven Olympic Games, 8 Asian Games and 6 Commonwealth Games besides numerous World Championships in various sports.