Royal Birkdale, July 20, 2017: The margins are so fine in Birkdale, it is hard to tell if you are on the winning side or not. Despite playing some good golf through the day, both Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur had to be content signing on a 73 in the first round of The Open Championships. The duo will need to somehow find a better round tomorrow to ensure safe passage into the weekend of the 146th edition at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club. Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka made 65, making golf look deceptively easy.
“I played good golf,” insisted a confident Shiv, right after his round. “I was going well through the first six holes, before that triple bogey on the 7th derailed me a little bit. You take that out of the equation and it is an even par round.”
Shiv started his day with a bogey at the first hole, but recovered quickly to get even with a birdie at the next one.
Even after that disappointing triple at the seventh, Shiv did well to keep his head on the shoulders, regaining two of those shots through a solid stretch that extended eight holes from the eighth.
“It was obviously disappointing to bogey 16 and 18. That has hurt me quite a bit. But we will learn from those mistakes and come back stronger for the second round,” he added, firmly optimistic of his chances for a recovery on Friday.
Anirban began his round just a few minutes later, two groups after Shiv. Anirban was quickly on the main leaderboard at one under through five holes.
But then, he was pushed into a rough patch that translated into six bogeys in eight holes, including four straight immediately after the bend.
“It was a rough ride during that phase,” admitted Anirban. “The momentum was against us, but the margins are so fine here. You do not need to be too far off the line to lose a shot.”
I suggested that today was a case of trouble off the tee, good transition and some more pain on the greens. Anirban was in agreement, stating that the margins in Birkdale are wafer thin.
He has an afternoon tee off tomorrow, when some rains are expected to make life miserable for players. “The eagle at the 17th came as a huge relief,” added Lahiri. “I will be watching the Open tomorrow morning. Hopefully we can see the pins and how they play. I expect to play well and recover from here.”
India will be watching eagerly to see these two men do better in the second round. As things stand, they will need par or better tomorrow to avoid missing the cut.