August 10, 2018: Anirban Lahiri spent most of his day waiting to roll, with his first round scheduled from the 10th tee, well after 0200pm in St. Louis. When he stepped out, he was a busy bee making things happen at a frenzied pace. Anirban shot four birdies in his first nine holes but also conceded three bogeys before making the turn. In the end, it took a monster putt from 38 feet to just finish the day in even par.
Gary Woodland emerged as the first round leader, after pipping Rickie Fowler to the front. Woodland was among the afternoon starters, chasing Fowler’s mark of five under 65. Woodland started with a bogey but made seven birdies in his last eleven holes to secure the lead.
Earlier in the day, among the early starters, Shubhankar Sharma played some clean golf for a 69 in the first round. The 21-year-old has entered in all four majors this season. This was Shubhankar’s first sub-par round in nine attempts at the majors.
Anirban also started his day with a bogey. At the 508 yard par-4 10th hole, Anirban laid up just short. His wedge, the third shot, left him just six feet to the pin. He two-putted from there to take a bogey.
Lahiri made amends quickly, making a six-footer at the 12th and a brilliant putt from 16 feet on the 14th to get under par. But the rough caught him on the 15th and a two-putt from six feet on the 16th accounted for two successive bogeys.
The Indian was in no mood to relent though. He sank an eight-footer on the 17th and made a brilliant 15-foot putt on the 18th to work his way back to one under.
After four straight pars after the bend, Anirban conceded strokes at the 5th and 7th holes. His second shot at the fifth flirted with the rough. At the seventh, Anirban missed from six feet to slip back into over par territory.
The determined Indian was clearly playing better golf than his numbers. But it was a day on which he missed several makeable putts. It wasn’t an adequate response to correct his card lower, but a monster putt from 38 feet on the ninth should give Anirban the confidence needed to go out early on Friday and post a low score.