Carnoustie, 19 July 2018: The Open has begun on a rocky note for Indian golf fans. Anirban Lahiri played some patchy golf in the first round as he stumbled to a 76 with three bogeys and a double bogey at the 10thhole. Kevin Kisner made the most of some good weather and low winds to climb to the top on a 66. Zander Lombard, Tony Finau and Erik van Rooyen are all in second with a 67 to their name.
Anirban is a thinking golfer. He wasted no time making fun of his day on the course, with a pun on something that we often use in our copies. “I had a birdie-free day,” he announced with a smile, soon as he entered the tent where we speak to the players.
Jokes aside, he was gutted by the tepid performance, especially considering that both his game and confidence are back where they belong.
“I did not strike the ball well today. I let myself down off the tee,” he admitted. “It was an uphill battle from there. At some places I was 20-30 degrees off the line, constantly fading right with my first shot.
“The three putt on the 16thalso did not help my cause,” he added. “I was finding it hard to read the pace on the greens today, making it difficult to make any sort of impression. But I start late on Friday, so will try and put in some work today afternoon and tomorrow morning. Hopefully, I will make a bunch of birdies tomorrow and work my way back into the tournament.”
Anirban made bogeys at the fourth and ninth holes, but there seemed no real reason for concern. But as soon as he sailed right with the drive off the tenth tee box, it was clear that the back nine would turn into an uphill struggle.
The 104thranked Indian flew past the bunkers, as he may have wanted, but found his ball nestled in the thick rough just beyond the sand traps. His next shot travelled 15 yards before resting firmly in the rough.
Anirban tried to lift himself out of the rough, but the third shot ended up in the greenside bunker. He did well to take the double bogey on the chin, but the three-putt at 16 added to his woes. Anirban made par on the 17thdespite falling into another bunker and closed out with an even four at the 18thto end his day well outside the projected cut line.
According to datagolf.ca and cutsweats.com, the projected cut is expected to fall at +1, which means Anirban will need a 67 or better on Friday.
Shubhankar Sharma made six straight pars to start his round, before conceding a bogey at the seventh hole. The 21-year-old suffered more damage soon after making the turn.
He conceded two more strokes, making bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes, sliding to three over par. At the par-5 14th hole finally, Shubhankar provided Indian fans something to cheer when he made a birdie.
The top of the leaderboard featured three South Africans. Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard are lying just one behind the leader. Van Rooyen worked his way into the Open by finishing second in the Joburg Open. Lombard got in when he finished sixth at the Irish Open.
A further stroke behind them is Brandon Stone, who shot 68 as did Brendan Steele and Ryan Moore. Stone is among the last to qualify for the Open, making it to Carnoustie on the strength of a victory at the Scottish Open.
Rory McIlroy was even through eleven holes but made birdies at 12 & 14 to end the day at two under, within touching distance of the top.