01 October 2021: Anirban Lahiri got his season off to a positive start with a steady 69 in the Sanderson Farms Championship. Rookie Sahith Theegala made a big impression with a mighty 64 in the opening round. The Californian of Indian origin was T47 in the season opener, the Fortinet Championship. Sahith has the lead at 8-under with Nick Watney and Harold Varner III tied for 2nd one shot back. Si Woo Kim, Roger Sloan, and Kurt Kitayama are 6-under at T4.
This is the best start in 15 starts on the PGA TOUR for Sahith Theegala, whose previous best after a PGA TOUR round came at the Genesis Invitational in 2017, when he was T8 after the first round.
Into his seventh straight full season on the PGA TOUR, Anirban Lahiri is hoping to step on the pedal and secure an elusive victory in the USA. He started off tentatively, needing two putts from nine feet on the fourth hole for a bogey. The Indians approach left him needing a chip to the green, leading to the two-putt bogey.
Anirban made 12 of 18 greens in regulation, bouncing back from a couple of bogeys on the way out with a stellar second nine that included five birdies in seven holes.
At the 403-yard par-4 eighth, Lahiri needed four strokes to get on the green, conceding his second bogey just ahead of the turn. But he turned things around quickly. On the par-5 eleventh, he reached the green in three and knocked down an eight footer to start repairing the damage on his card.
A sensational 29-foot birdie on the twelfth changed the tone and gave him valuable momentum. Even the right rough at the par-5 14th could not hold him back from another birdie as he slid under par for the first time this week.
He added birdies on the 15th and 17th holes for an emphatic finish and a solid 69, enough for T32.
Sungjae Im opened with a 5-under 67, including a couple of putts from the 30-feet range. The first of those was from 32feet on the 13th hole and the second, a 27-footer on the 18th hole. After starting with a bogey on the 10th, that provided great energy for the Korean as he went past the turn.
“I came into the tournament after a long break, and to start the new season on 5-under is quite good. I hope to keep this momentum,” said Im.
“I was a runner-up on this course before. It is hard to create birdie chances if you miss the fairway,” said Im, who hit only seven fairways during his round. “So I need to keep the ball in the fairways and focus on my iron shots and wedge play. I remember I did good here. I’ve worked hard for the new season and prepared well, so I feel good,” said Im.
Sahith Theegala 64 (-8)
Nick Watney 65 (-7)
Harold Varner III 65 (-7)
Roger Sloan 66 (-6)
Kurt Kitayama 66 (-6)
Si Woo Kim 66 (-6)