From. left: Hudson Swafford, Arjun Atwal and Anirban Lahiri. Pic: File
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Sep 26: Anirban Lahiri got off to a solid start and was 3-under through 12 holes but dropped a lot shots in the remainder to finish even par of the day at the Corales Puntacana Championship. However, he managed to make the cut on his debut in the Dominican Republic.
Arjun Atwal faced contrasting fortunes as he birdied two of his last three holes while playing the same group as Lahiri and squeezed inside the cut line of 3-under 141 as 71 professionals made the weekend. Both Lahiri and Atwal were placed T-54.
Akshay Bhatia (69-73) and Daniel Chopra (75-80) missed the cut.
Meanwhile, Hudson Swafford, who was stung by a hornet earlier in the day shit 5-under 67 and led the field with 12-under total, while Justin Suh (67-67), Luke List (69-65) and Sean O’Hair (67-67) were Tied-2nd at 10-under.
Lahiri, who had four birdies in the last six holes on the first day, started strongly on the 10th on the second day. He birdied 12th and 16th but dropped a shot on 18th to turn in one-under. Birdies on first and third made it 3-under and took his total to 6-under at which point he was in Top-15. A bogey on Par-5 fourth, his 13th hole, was followed by another sixth and yet another on closing hole for a disappointing 72.
Atwal whose 73 on day placed him T-105th birdied the 11th and 16th but dropped a shot on 13th and failed to take advantage of the Par-5s on 12th and 14th holes. On the second nine, he was still outside the cut line despite a birdie on first. With three holes to go, he was 1-under but birdies on seventh and ninth pulled him in to ensure weekend action.
Atwal, who made three cuts in four starts in the ‘Return to Golf’ following the stoppage due to Covid-19, said, “I have not played since Wyndham, which was some six weeks ago. In this period I chilled with the family, wife and the kids. Maybe the front nine took off my rust in the first round. I think I had only one bogey in the last 27 holes. It is important to get some birdies out here, so I am going to attack over the weekend.”
Akshay Bhatia, who shot 69 on day one, added 73 on the second day and missed the cut.
Among the notables who missed the cut were defending champion Graeme McDowell, Charles Howell III and Branden Grace.
The leading Asian was China’s Xinjun Zhang (66-69) and he is three off the lead at 9-under at Tied-fifth. Also making the cut were Sangmoon Bae (71-68) at T-30 and C.T. Pan (71-70) and Joohyung Kim (72-69), with one of the six bogey free rounds of the day, were at 3-under and were T-54 alongside Lahiri and Atwal.
Swafford, whose last win was the 2017 The American Express, takes a 2-shot lead and he will have Sean O’Hair in the final group. O’Hair missed an entire year with injury and returned just before the pandemic. Swafford, whose caddie got stung by a hornet on day one, suffered a similar sting on a finger on the second.
Justin Suh, who turned pro alongside Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff in 2019, sits at Tied-second.