March 17, 2018: Anirban Lahiri spent most of Friday afternoon, playing with the sword. The Indian made an afternoon start and an early bogey set the tone for another day from the trenches for Lahiri. But just when it mattered, with the blade scraping the back of his neck, Anirban fired back to back birdies on the home stretch to survive into the weekend. At the top, Bryson DeChambeau produced a fabulous 66 to join Henrik Stenson in the lead at 11-under 133, at the halfway stage of this Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Anirban followed through his first round 73 with an even effort in the second round to make the cut on the sharp edge of the knife.
The day started for Anirban with a three-putt at the tenth hole, where he missed a short four-footer for par. Anirban made amends with a birdie at the 13th hole, but he sailed into the water on the par-5 16th hole and settled for another bogey.
A birdie at the 17th was perhaps a fitting response. Anirban sank a carefully crafted putt from 25 feet to ensure he remained even for the round. Unfortunately for him, he made the turn much the same way as he started it. A three-putt from 30 feet meant that Anirban was two over as he went past the 18th hole – his ninth for the day.
At the first hole, Anirban found himself navigating through the fairway bunker and then the dirt as he conceded his fourth bogey of the round. Now three over, the threat of a missed cut was looming large.
Often Anirban has found his best game under strife. He did just that at the Bay Hill Golf Club deep into his second round. With his back to the wall, the 30-year-old produced a disciplined effort, peppering it with a pair of birdies at the fourth and fifth holes.
“I felt like I played pretty solid today,” said Anirban. “A couple of three putts derailed my momentum. I will try and get some early birdies tomorrow and kick on from there.”
Most importantly for Anirban, he made a tricky 12-footer on the ninth hole to secure his bag for the weekend.
De Chambeau showcased his skills on a day that tested his mettle. After an early bogey threatened to upend his plans, the American collected five birdies between the fourth and thirteenth to rise up the board.
Another bogey at the par-3 14th did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm. At the 497-yard, par-5 16th hole, DeChambeau flew within ten feet of the flag with his second shot. He promptly made an eagle to inch closer to Stenson.
A birdie at the final hole, his sixth of the day, helped him draw level with the Swede.
Hopes, especially in the American media, for a Tiger Woods romp to the top took a beating on Friday. The great golfer needed to grind like a mortal, running the whole day to remain in the same place.
Woods settled for an even 72, highlighted by a par save at the 14th hole. His tee shot landed in the bunker, offering him barely any space to work back to the green. Woods left himself a difficult 22-footer after extracting himself from the sand and nailed the putt to a rapturous gallery.
Talor Gooch did well to hold on in the third spot, with a two-under 70 in the second round. He is two back from the leaders, on the might of a 65 in the opening round. Byeong Hun An did an encore 68 to enter the weekend in fourth place.
Charley Hoffman shot 66 to gain 27 spots at 7-under 137. Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Luke List, Patrick Reed and Ryan Moore rounded off the top ten a further stroke behind Hoffman.
75 professionals and two amateurs at 1-over 145 from a field of 118 professionals and two amateurs.
Henrik Stenson 64-69—133 (-11)
Bryson DeChambeau 67-66—133 (-11)
Talor Gooch 65-70—135 (-9)
Byeong Hun An 68-68—136 (-8)
Charley Hoffman 71-66—137 (-7)
Other Asian Scores
Hideki Matsuyama 70-72 – 142 (-2)
Haotong Li 73-70 – 143 (-1)
C.T. Pan 74-71 – 145 (+1)
Sung Kang 78-67 – 145 (+1)
Anirban Lahiri 73-72 – 145 (+1)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 73-74 – 147 (+3)
Yuta Ikeda 73-74 – 147 (+3)
Whee Kim 72-76 – 148 +4)
Sangmoon Bae 76-74 – 150 (+6)
Siwoo Kim 76-75 – 151 (+7)
Satoshi Kodaira 75-77 – 152 (+8)