It is going to be a waiting game for Anirban Lahiri, as his mid-round tumble on the second day saw him fall from a comfortable 3-under and T-27 after first round to a precarious even par after the second round at the PLAYERS Championships.
Lahiri (69-75) is currently lying at T-80 with more than half the field yet to complete. The current projected cut line was 1-under, but could well fall to even par, in which case Lahiri would make it to the weekend for the first time in three starts at the PLAYERS.
Meanwhile, former World Amateur No. 1 Patrick Cantlay, one of the six co-leaders after first day, shared the lead with 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel at 10-under. Schwartzel shot 33-33 in the two halves following his first 68 and Cantlay opening the day with three birdies, shot 68.
Chesson Hadley, who went to 12-under through 16 before doubling 17th and bogeying 18th had finished at 9-under, while 2016 winner Jason Day (69-67) was Tied-4th with veteran Steve Stricker (67-69) and young Xander Schauffele (68-68).
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren and Webb Simpson, all at 66, were yet to start his second round.
Lahiri stumbled in the second round after making a great start with birdies on sixth and seventh, which saw him rise to 5-under and Tied-8th at that early stage on Friday. A missed par-putt on eighth saw him drop his first bogey on the day, but the ninth may well have been the turning point of the day. The bogey on Par-5 ninth after missing par from 12 feet was a disappointment. Then came a three-putt on 10th and that ruined the day and the round.
The short birdie miss on 11th and then a bad swing on Par-3 15th, which Lahiri called as, “pretty much the only bad swing all day”, were followed by a bogey on 16th, which was the final straw. “It was like a two-shot swing, from a birdie chance to bogey.” Still Lahiri did well to par the 17th and 18th.
Lahiri said, “I didn’t wake advantage of the Par-5s like I should. I didn’t put myself in the right positions and I allowed the momentum to slip away after being 2-under through 7 in second round. I three-putted on nine and allowed things to get away from me on 10 and 11 and so on.”
So at even par for 36 holes, he now had to wait for next five hours or more to see if he was staying on for the weekend or exiting early yet again. “Looking at positives, my game trended in the right direction, except that I did not score well again. But I did hit better shots at times. I can taste it that my game is just around the corner,” said Lahiri, still managing a smile in rather warm conditions. “It is not getting any easier out there, the 17th and 18th are very demanding and I am just waiting to see what happens and if I am going to here for the weekend.”
Lahiri, 3-under 69 in first round, birdied sixth and seventh in the second and rose to as high as T-8th. Then he dropped a series of shots to fall to 3-over 75. Lahiri had three birdies against four bogeys and a double on the second day.
Tiger Woods, even for first day, shot 71 on second day and reached 1-under for two days and will be around for the weekend.
Lahiri starting Round 2 at 3-under, parred first five holes before finding birdies on sixth and seventh. That pushed him up to T-8th, but a derailment with three bogeys – including a missed 12-footer for par on ninth and a three-putt from seven feet on 10th – plus a four-foot missed putt for birdie on 11th saw him fall. He birdied 12th but doubled the Par-3 15th, where he went into the water and bogeyed 16th, too. He parred the 17th and 18th and carded 75.
On Thursday, when low scores were the norm, Lahiri shot 69 to be T-27. He had six birdies against three bogeys, all on front nine of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Turning at 36 with three birdies and three bogeys, he played solid with three birdies and a couple of excellent saves on his second nine.
One of the highlights for Lahiri was the birdie on 18th, his ninth hole, where he had a 10 last year. After his first round, Lahiri said, “No, you're not going to win this tournament on Thursday. I'll take anything in the 60s. If you can stay in the 60s for four days you'll be fine. I think the course will get tougher on the weekend.”
Matt Kuchar, also first round co-leader finished with 71 and is now 7-under for 36 holes alongside Jimmy Walker (69-68) and Sergio Garcia (68-69). They were Tied-8th
Phil Mickelson (79-73) and Rickie Fowler (74-71) were sure to miss the cut, while Jordan Spieth (75) and Justin Thomas (73) were yet to start second round.
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.