Anirban Lahiri fights his way to T33 in PGA Championship

A late flourish helped Anirban Lahiri end the first day of the PGA Championship with a one over score of 72. Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen took early charge with a 67.

Feb 25, 2017; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; Anirban Lahiri prepares to putt on the second hole during the third round of The Honda Classic at PGA National (Champion). Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

11 August, 2017: Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner are 18-hole co-leaders at the 99th PGA Championship, after both recorded 4-under 67s on Thursday at Quail Hollow Club. Olesen posted his number during the morning wave, while Kisner waited until the afternoon. This is the first time that either player has had the lead, or even a share of it, after any round of a major championship. Anirban Lahiri fought gallantly toward the end of his round to produce a 73 that nudged him up to T33.

Anirban shows grit and determination
In his fourth appearance at the PGA, Anirban found himself in a spot of bother at three over through 15 holes. The 74th ranked Indian started his day with a bogey at the 10th hole. Anirban conceded a shot at the 14th, two at the 17th and another at the 5th.

Anirban needed birdies at the 7th and 9th, his third and fourth of the round to salvage a 72. That late flourish helped him rise up to T33 along side Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

Playing in his fifth PGA, Olesen’s 67 on Thursday matched his best PGA Championship round (he also posted a 67 in the final round in 2014 at Valhalla). It was also his lowest opening round in 14 career major championships. Olesen remains in search of his first win since the 2016 Turkish Airlines Open, although he’ll rely on experiences gained during a pair of top-10 finishes in majors: T-6 in the 2013 Masters and T-9 in the 2012 Open Championship.

Higher than normal
The 4-under, 67s posted by Olesen and Kisner represent the highest first-round score in relation to par by a leader(s) in the PGA Championship since 2008, when Robert Karlsson and Jeev Milkha Singh carded matching 2-under, 68s to lead at Oakland Hills.

Dutch treat; Luiten’s ace christens new No. 4
Netherlands’ Joost Luiten recorded a hole-in-one on the 181-yard No. 4 hole Thursday. He used a 6-iron. It was the first ace on the newly-constructed hole, and the first in a PGA Championship since 2013 by Tim Clark (final round). Luiten’s ace was the fifth in a tour event at Quail Hollow Club since 2008. The other four came in the Wells Fargo Championship: Jay Williamson (2008, No. 6); Colt Knost (2015, No. 17); Carlos Ortiz (No. 2016, No. 17); and William McGirt (2016, No. 2, which is now a par-4 hole).

Herman’s hot start
Jim Herman, who once worked as a PGA Professional at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, raced to the early co-lead at 4-under par after 16 holes. However, the Green Mile showed its teeth, as a par on No. 16 and back-to-back bogeys on No. 17 and 18 resulted in a 2-under-par 69. “I feel like I drove the ball really well. I think that’s a weapon for me here…Probably my best start in any major,” said Herman, who is playing in his second PGA Championship (2016 at Baltusrol).

Protecting the reputation
Perhaps the most grueling stretch in golf, the final three holes at Quail Hollow Club, known as the “Green Mile,” lived up to expectations on Thursday, playing as the three toughest holes. The 223-yard par-3 17th yielded a course-low five birdies during Round 1, while 16 and 18 surrendered six and eight, respectively. Of the 156 players, six played holes 16 through 18 under par: Bud Cauley, Ryan Fox, Kevin Kisner, Chris Moody, Grayson Murray and Chris Stroud.

Eight is enough after 18
How big of a first-round hole can you dig? The largest deficit after 18 holes to eventually win a PGA Championship in the stroke-play era is eight strokes, on three occasions. Most recently, Keegan Bradley (71 – T36) came back after being eight strokes behind first-round leader Steve Stricker (63) at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011. Bradley would go on to defeat Jason Dufner in a three-hole aggregate score playoff. In 1989, the late Payne Stewart’s opening tally of 74 at Kemper Lakes would leave him T-77, but he would eventually rally to clip both Andy Bean and first round co-leader Mike Reid by one stroke. In 1978, John Mahaffey roared back after a first-round 75 (T-66) at Oakmont to ultimately win in a dramatic sudden-death playoff over Jerry Pate and Tom Watson.

Uresti leads club pro contingent
Omar Uresti arrived at Quail Hollow Club on a high, still basking in the afterglow of his victory in the 50th PGA Professional Championship in June in Sunriver, Oregon. On Tuesday night, he was a guest at the annual PGA Champions Dinner and sat next to his childhood idol, 1966 Champion Al Geiberger. Those special moments boosted Uresti’s spirits after posting a 3-over-par 74 in Thursday’s opening round of the 99th PGA Championship. Even a double bogey halfway through his round – a pulled approach shot into the creek near the 18th green (his ninth hole) – could not spoil Uresti’s day as he made his second consecutive start in the PGA Championship. His rollercoaster round featured three birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey. Uresti led a 20-member PGA Club Professional contingent, while Matt Dobyns of Glen Head, New York, and Kenny Pigman of Norco, California, each had a 76.


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