18 February, 2018: Changing clubs isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially after several years on the circuit in the company of a familiar bag. Anirban Lahiri though is reaping the rewards of an off season drill that took him to Ahmedabad for a workout under the hawk eyed Vijay Divecha. The Indian shot a terrific four under 67 on Saturday, to recover from T62 at the end of the opening round, to T13, just five adrift of the leader. Bubba Watson rode a 65 to ride into the lead at 10-under, with Patrick Cantlay tapping at his heels on 9-under.
Anirban got off to a sizzler, working off the apron to about 36ft to the flag on the par-5 first hole. He nearly sank an eagle from there, before contenting himself with a tap in birdie.
A bogey at the par-4 third hole threatened to derail Anirban, but the determined Indian fired back at Riviera with a consecutive birdies on the 5th and 6th holes. At the par-3 sixth, Lahiri made an elegant putt from 12 feet to go two under for the round.
After making nine straight pars, Anirban raised the stakes toward the end of his third round. He produced a pair of birdies at the 16th & 17th holes to end the day on a high.
The 30 year old is set for a fourth good result this season, after notching up top ten finishes in The CJ Cup and CIMB Classic on the early season Asian swing. The 77th ranked Indian also finished T14 in the OHL Classic in Mayakoba.
The day though, really belonged to Watson. After fumbling through the NBA All Star game on Friday night, Bubba turned the lights on himself with what he does best. He turned in 30 strokes, including an eagle on the first hole and three birdies.
The second nine consisted a bogey on the 15th sandwiched between birdies at the 10th and 17th holes. Watson will play on Sunday with Cantlay, who is just one adrift on the leaderboard.
The stage is set for an exciting Sunday, with Cameron Smith, Kevin Na, Tony Finau and Graeme McDowell lying in the hunt, just two off the pace.
Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson are also not too far behind at 6-under. Johnson came to life on the back nine, firing four birdies and an eagle for a stunning 64.