01 March 2019: A determined Anirban Lahiri locked in a solid 67 in the opening round of the Honda Classic. His score was good enough to help him end the day at T6, just three strokes from the leader Jhonattan Vegas, who made a spotless 64. Zach Johnson, Ernie Els, Ben Silverman and Lucas Glover posted 66s with Anirban sitting in the group behind them.
It was a testing start for the Indian who went birdie-bogey twice over after starting at the first tee. Anirban settled down from there, going past the bend in an even 35 strokes, with no further incident after a bogey at the fourth hole.
Anirban sailed a 246-yard approach on the par-4 10th hole before making the 10 footer for his third birdie of the round. But he suffered a setback at the very next hole as he two putted after reaching the green in four for a painful double bogey.
As if stoked by his constant back and forth battle with the PGA National Golf Club’s Champion Course, Anirban unhinged himself in spectacular fashion. He made four birdies in the last six holes to more than adequately address the conceded strokes for a strong finish. Anirban took just 32 strokes for his back nine on Thursday.
Vegas came out guns blazing – making back to back birdies, first at 12 and then at 17 for a forceful start from the 10th tee. He added two more birdies on his way home for a two-stroke advantage over a bunched field of golfers.
The 64 was the second best opening round performance since the Honda Classic moved to the PGA National in 2007. Rory McIlroy made a 63 in 2014. On Thursday, the Northern Irishman, looking to sustain a streak of top 5s that has now reached four, made a poised 67.
Defending champion Justin Thomas fell into the bear trap, conceded three strokes over the 15th and 16th holes, but did well to make 68.
PGA TOUR Notes
Anirban Lahiri hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation during his first round at the Honda Classic, and had a good round of putting, with no misses on putts within 10 feet. Lahiri finished his day tied for 6th at 3 under with Bronson Burgoon, Roberto Castro, Rory Sabbatini, Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Julián Etulain, Billy Horschel, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Schenk, Hank Lebioda, Brooks Koepka, and Bud Cauley; Jhonattan Vegas is in 1st at 6 under; and Ernie Els, Ben Silverman, Zach Johnson, and Lucas Glover are tied for 2nd at 4 under.
After a drive to the right side of the fairway on the 365-yard par-4 first hole, Anirban Lahiri had a 118 yard approach shot, setting himself up for the birdie. This moved Anirban Lahiri to 1 under for the round.
On the 464-yard par-4 second, Lahiri had a bogey after hitting the green in 3 and two putting, moving Lahiri to even for the round.
After a drive to the right side of the fairway on the 538-yard par-5 third, Lahiri hit his second into the left greenside bunker, which he successfully hit out from to the green for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 1 under for the round.
After hitting his tee shot into the fairway bunker, Lahiri hit his next to the right side of the fairway and reached the green on his fourth shot, rolling a one-putt bogey on the 395-yard par-4 fourth. This moved Lahiri to even-par for the round.
On the par-4 10th, Lahiri’s 246 yard approach to 10 feet set himself up for the birdie on the hole. This moved Lahiri to 1 under for the round.
Lahiri got a double bogey on the 450-yard par-4 11th, getting on the green in 4 and two putting, moving Lahiri to 1 over for the round.
After a drive to the right intermediate rough on the 388-yard par-4 13th hole, Lahiri had a 116 yard approach shot, setting himself up for the birdie. This moved Lahiri to even for the round.
At the 179-yard par-3 15th, Lahiri hit a tee shot 170 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 25-foot putt for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 1 under for the round.
On the 434-yard par-4 16th hole, Lahiri reached the green in 2 and sunk a 17-foot putt for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 2 under for the round.
On the 556-yard par-5 18th, Lahiri reached the green in 3 and sunk a 31-foot putt for birdie. This put Lahiri at 3 under for the round.
R1: Jhonattan Vegas (64), Sergio Garcia (67)
“Bear Trap” averages – No. 15 (3.189/5th-toughest), No. 16 (4.021/11th-toughest), No. 17 (3.014/12th-toughest)
The par-4 sixth hole played the toughest in round one, giving up just nine birdies against 67 bogeys or worse (4.559)
The par-5 third hole ranked as the easiest, with a scoring average also of 4.559