14 June 2019: As a deeply pained Anirban Lahiri went past the ninth, his face was composed of a unique grief that only an elite golfer can fathom. Admittedly Pebble Beach can be a real test, demanding accuracy off the tee and educated strategy with the irons to produce an impactful card. Starting the day at 3-over, Anirban was hanging onto his sails like an oarsman in the thick of a miserable storm.
Justin Rose layered himself into comfort, enjoying a three-stroke advantage over the field after making birdies at 15, 18 and the 2nd holes. He was 8-under with seven to play, with Chesson Hadley in hot pursuit at 5-under through 14 holes. Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen were yet to get started with their second round.
Anirban prides himself for being a world-class golfer and the failure to translate the aspirations in his agile mind out on the course hurts him much more than any of us might be able to experience or understand. Every club he chooses, every swipe he takes, Anirban is expecting to create a symphony from tee to green.
In reality, the tricky design of the course and the winds from the ocean were teasing the desperately hardworking Anirban, dissecting his mind and bruising his body, one bogey at a time.
At the very first hole, Anirban flew right into the second cut of rough on a course where the first is bad enough. He needed a third shot to get on the green before taking a two-putt bogey from about 19 feet.
The bleeding was only just beginning. Anirban worked his way into deeper trouble, this time from a comfortable position on the left fairway of the second hole. After missing the green with his approach, Anirban took a three-putt bogey that must have broken his spirits.
But the 31-year-old Indian isn’t broken easily. Despite losing the fourth stroke of the day before reaching the fifth tee, he worked resolutely, nearly making a 22 footer for birdie. He took par there before gaining temporary respite at the sixth. After laying just short of the green on the 529 yards par-5, Anirban chipped his third to within five feet and earned his first birdie of the round.
With the cut projected to fall at 2-over, Anirban was seven strokes adrift of the mark even as he made a much-needed par at the 10th, after nearly finding the cup from 24 feet away. Only eight holes were left to play and it will take a magical spell through the remainder of the round for Anirban to rescue his sinking ship.