24 February, 2018: It is a familiar pattern now, Anirban Lahiri is turning masterful at the rescue act. Just as he did at the Genesis Open last week, the Indian produced yet another performance to force his way into the weekend. The 77th ranked golfer shot one over 71 in the second round to secure his place in the Honda Classic. Luke List and Jamie Lovemark hold a narrow one stroke lead over a group of four men. There are just ten golfers who managed to stay under par through 36 holes in Palm Beach Gardens.
The PGA National is behaving like a beast with claws, peeling the skin off golfers this week. Patton Kizzire reached Florida, hoping to move inside the top 50 and confirm his place for the Masters. The man from Alabama is a two time winner this season – OHL Classic & Sony Open. The course with the Bear Trap nailed Kizzire into submission, returning him home with a sorry card that read 12-0ver 152 at the end of two rounds.
“It just feels like you’re getting punched in the face every hole,” said an exasperated Daniel Berger, who is comfortably perched in T7, just two off the pace. The devastation of golfers is best summed up in his thoughts.
Anirban began his journey on the 10th hole – even though he reached the edge of the green in two strokes, three putted from around 58ft to suffer a bogey.
He fell in the greenside bunker on the par-4 13th hole and an agonizing three putt from around 12 feet left Anirban seething as he fell to two over for the day.
The 30-year-old played with customary resolve and discipline from there. He produced four straight pars, including safe passage through the dreaded Bear Trap.
At the 18th, Anirban found himself in the fairway bunker on the left, about 105 yards from the green. The unflinching Indian played well to sail within 15ft of the pin, before making a brilliant putt for birdie.
He rode that momentum to sink two more birdies after the turn, making it three in a span of four holes through the third.
But more bogeys followed, as the wind picked up and the course continued to hold sway. Three lost shots were punctuated by a birdie at the par-4 sixth hole, accounting for a 71 that left him waiting patiently inside the clubhouse, wondering if 4-over 144 was enough to sail into the weekend.
Tiger Woods shot one over 71, largely down to his struggles through the bear trap, but left feeling optimistic about the weekend.
“I feel like I’m right there,” Woods said after finishing at 141, 1 over par and in a tie for 14th. “I’m right where I can win a golf tournament. You know, four back on this golf course with 36 holes to go, anybody can win this golf tournament right now. It’s wide open.”
The knife feel at five over, leaving Anirban relieved and safe for some more battle over the weekend.