Lahiri. File pic
Anirban Lahiri, who returned to action after a break due to Covid hit the ball well but left a lot of putts inside 10 feet to card 2-under 70 in the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship in McKinney, Texas.
Lahiri’s 70 placed him way down the leaderboard at T-96 as the low-scoring saw Jordan Spieth and JJ Spaun card 9-under 63 each to lead the field. Rafa Cabrera Bello was among four players at 8-under 64.
Lahiri, who missed action the last three weeks, felt he was playing around 75 per cent but was happy to get back to action. Starting from the tenth, Lahiri birdied the 11th and then had pars on the next 11 holes, before he dropped a shot on fourth to fall to even for the round. He missed at least half a dozen putts from 10 feet or under. Then he closed with back-to-birdies eighth and ninth to finish 2-under.
With the scores being low and 132 out of 156 players shooting par or under, Lahiri will need a solid second round to play the weekend.
Leading the Asian challenge was Korea’s KH Lee, who carded 7-under 65 and was in the hunt for a maiden PGA Tour win, despite the return of the Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama who marked his return to competition with a 68 at TPC Craig Ranch on Thursday.
In a tournament, which has been previously won by three Asian players, the 29-year-old Lee had eight birdies against a lone bogey to end the day two shots back of co-leaders Spaun and local favourite, Spieth.
Lee is bidding to follow in the footsteps of previous Asian winners Sung Kang (2019), Sangmoon Bae (2013) and Shigeki Maruyama (2002). The tournament was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.
The highlight of Spieth’s spectacular round was a 55’ 1” putt for eagle at the last hole for a bogey-free 9-under 63.