Tokyo, July 29: India’s Anirban Lahiri playing his second Olympic Games got off to a solid start with a 4-under 67 in the first round of the Olympic Games golf competition, which got underway at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.
The former Asian Tour No. 1 Hero Lahiri had six birdies against two bogeys and was Tied-eighth alongside Paul Casey (GBR) Alex Noren (Sweden) and Sebastian Munoz (Mexico) at the end of the day.
The other Indian, Udayan Mane, who made the field of 60 at a late stage, had a fine start at 2-under after eight holes. But he finished at 5-over 76 and was 60th and last.
Play was interrupted in between due to inclement weather when there was a threat was lightning.
The field was led by Austrian Sepp Straka, who came into the Games after six missed cuts in last seven starts, equalled an Olympic record of 8-under 63. His birdie attempt for a new record lipped out on 18th.
Hero sponsored Lahiri, coming off a third place in Barbasol Championships on the PGA Tour, was happy with the start, as he said, “It was good. I think I started off a little dodgy first few holes, couldn’t get my rhythm going early. But then I settled down nicely and played pretty good. I probably feel like I could have taken some more chances, some opportunities on the back nine I didn’t make as many birdies as I could have. I have to build on this and as you can see already there’s a lot of opportunities if it keeps playing like this, soft, there’s not much rain today, then you have to go out there and just really be aggressive and make a lot of putts.”
He managed good practice, too, and said, “I got a full 36 in, nine every day the four days leading up to the event, so I felt pretty comfortable on the golf course. Obviously the tournament setup’s going to be a little different but I feel like it wasn’t as hard as they could make it.”
“Today we barely had any wind, so a good day to go out and take advantage. The greens are beautiful, they’re perfect, they’re rolling great, golf course is immaculate. So, yeah, I mean, I’m satisfied, I would have liked to be a couple shots better, closer, but three more days to go.”
Lahiri shrugged off a bogey start on first by later sinking some huge putts. Two of his birdies on ninth and 15th came from 28 feet. Hero-sponsored Lahiri had a super run of four birdies in five holes from fifth to ninth. Then he had. back-to-back birdies on 15th and 16th and closed with two pars. His dropped shots came on first and 12th.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who was 6-under through 15 holes, had to wait for the weather to improve to finish. He added another birdie and was sole second at 7-under 64.
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Mexican Carlos Ortiz shot 6-under 65 each.
Among the world stars, who did not have a great start, former World No. 1 Justin Thomas started with even par 71 and was T-41, while the 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and 2021 British Open champion Collin Morikawa of the US, were both T-20 with 2-undetr 69 each. Rory McIlroy was also 2-under 69.
Straka, ranked 161st in the world, equalled the record of 63 set by Matt Kuchar (US) and Marcus Fraser of Australia who shot 63 in the 2016 Rio Games when golf returned to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.
Back in 2016, Lahiri, coming off an injury had finished 57th out of 60 players, and was keen on making amends for that result. This time he is coming off a superb third place at the Barbasol Championship on the PG A Tour.