Kuala Lumpur, 13 October, 2017: As the final groups walked off the first and tenth tees on Friday, there was a cover of thick clouds hanging over the scenic TPC Kuala Lumpur. It did not take long before the loud siren ushered the players back in the hut with a weather warning. After the rain break, it was Pat Perez (-13) and Xander Schauffele (-12) who held centre stage, with scores of 65 and 67 respectively. Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia had a day that combined both good and bad. At -4, Lahiri is lying in T23 while Chawrasia shot 71 to stay in T45.
Both Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia played from the first tee in the second round, managing to reach the second and fifth holes respectively, before the interruption. With nearly four hours lost, the players resumed at 1415 hrs to complete their rounds.
Anirban produced an encore at the first hole, scoring a birdie for the second day running. Chawrasia on the other hand was making an eventful start, as he started to make an aggressive bid to move up the order.
The diminutive golfer made a bogey at the second hole, but recovered the stroke straight back with a birdie at the par-3 fourth hole to remain at even par.
Another fine birdie at the sixth hole helped Chawrasia dip under par. But the 11th hole proved to be his undoing yet again. “In fact I am finding the 11th quite a challenge,” Chawrasia told me, when asked if 12th was the most difficult hole on the TPC Kuala Lumpur course. “I hit it short in the first round and dropped into the pond. Today I over compensated and went too long. It has cost me three strokes already.”
Back to back bogeys at 11 & 12 meant that Chawrasia was in over par territory. But the gritty Indian did very well from there. He made four straight pars before ending the day on a high with a couple of birdies to end the day at one under, lying T45.
“Club selection is proving to be a tricky issue,” said Chawrasia. “The weather has made the course softer today, which means we also need to be very careful around the greens. But there are two days to play and I will give it my best.”
After making a great start to the event, Anirban looked like he was set to carry over the good work through Friday. He made a birdie at the first hole and seemed set for another at the second when the weather siren went out.
Lahiri made par at the second, but added back to back birdies at the fourth and fifth to climb up the order. He was eight under at that stage and appeared set for a ride up the order.
Unfortunately though, his game off the tee gave away midway through the round. “It is important to stay in the short grass here,” Anirban told me yesterday. “Once you are on the fairway, it is easier to work the ball up and down.”
Anirban found the fairway bunker at the par-4 seventh hole and a bogey swung the momentum away from him. He seemed to work consistently with a heavier ball from there, struggling through the rest of the round.
After adding bogeys at 12 & 16, Anirban reached the 18th hole even for the day. Anirban’s third shot left him about 20 ft to the pin and despite a good putt, he fell agonisingly short of making par.
He tapped in for bogey, walked up the green and threw the club at his bag. The weather was miserable all day and it seemed that the gloom might have taken hold of Lahiri’s mind too.
Anirban will be glad the day is over, so he can go back to the hotel and return for a fresh assault on Saturday. The forecast for Saturday is for a bright and sunny day with the temperatures in their mid-thirties. A bright morning and a good start should help Anirban work his way back to the better side of the leaderboard.