April 2: Anirban Lahiri got off to a steady start at the Valero Texas Open as he brought home 1-under 71 be Tied-22nd at TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course in Texsas. Lahiri birdied 14th, 17th and third and bogeyed the 15th and seventh.
Colombian Camilo Villegas moved into lead at 8-under 64 which included nine birdies round and a bogey, while Sung Kang, 33, is two shots back with Cameron Tringale with 66.
Lahiri, who has been having a disappointing run, was first out on Thursday. He said, “I think it was nice to get out early. I know it was really cold, but the wind hadn’t picked up, so I definitely got some really nice conditions.”
“I’ve been here a few times. I know how hard this course can be. I think the key is basically to try and put yourself in the fairways as many times as possible and also leave yourself in the right positions on the greens. I think I did that pretty well. I was pretty solid inside five, six feet, which is also really important because you don’t get a lot of kick‑ins, so you have to putt solid. I did hit a few loose shots coming in, felt like I could have closed a couple shots better.”
Saying he has been putting in a lot of work in whatever time he has got in between events, he added, “I think it’s definitely been a lot of work in progress. I think the last month or so I’ve had to work very hard on regaining the level of ball‑striking that I expect from myself and I need to have out here. It was missing during the Florida Swing to a large extent. So last week I stayed home and kind of built on some of the good stuff that I’ve been doing, so it’s nice to actually see it translate on a day like this.”
On having to play in the afternoon, when it could be windy on the second day, Lahiri said, “There’s always going to be some holes and some pin positions that you have to respect. A hole on any given day could be really, really difficult and the wind switches and the next day that’s the hole you have to make birdie on. Given the pin positions and the wind, you’ve got to really have a good game plan. Try to take advantage of the par 5s and just try and stay as clean as you can, keep it in play. There’s a lot of trouble, so you have to navigate and execute. So I’ll come up with my plan tonight. I’ll do my homework and I’ll put my work in.”
Jordan Spieth, who seems to be finding his way back four top-10 finishes in last two months, is three shots behind with 67 alongside Seung-Yul Noh and Hideki Matsuyama.
Villegas, the winner of the TOUR Championship in 2008 and the 2014g Wyndham winner, has suffered injury and also lost his 22-month-old daughter last year. He has had two top-10 finishes this year.
Korea’s Kang used a putting tip from Pat Perez to fire his low round of the year with an impressive 66. Kang eagled Par-5 11th hole when he hit the green in two and made a 30-foot eagle. Kang birdied three of his last four.
It marked a strong opening day for the Korean contingent as Seung-yul Noh also returned his best round of 2021 with a first round 67 to share fourth place while K.H. Lee carded a 70 for T13.
Phil Mickelson had a 10 on the 18th hole as he took two penalty shots and ended with a 79, which was 15 behind the leader.