Southampton, Bermuda, Oct 30: It was a tale of two nines for Anirban Lahiri on the opening day of the Bermuda Championship. Lahiri, who started with a 66 on the same course last year set to better that as he was 5-under through first 10 holes, before finishing his last seven holes in 2-over for a card of 3-under 68 in Tied-26th place at the Port Royal.
Arjun Atwal began with a birdie and then had to wait till the 18th for his only other birdie but in between he dropped a double bogey and four other bogeys for a disappointing 4-over 75, leaving him to do a lot of work to stay on for the weekend.
Peter Malnati, who saw his infant son at a PGA TOUR event for the first time since the pandemic, shot a round of 6-under 63 – his third round of 63 or better in last three weeks – as he got off to a great start and held a one-shot lead. Malnati is coming of finishes inside Top-5 in last two starts – T2 at Sanderson Farms and T-5 at Shriners Hospital for Children Open.
Malnati leads by one over Ryan Armour and Doug Ghim, who birdied his last two holes.
Lahiri, who had to withdraw after the second round last year because of a side strain, started birdie-birdie before dropping a shot on fourth. He quickly steadied himself and birdied fifth, sixth and ninth to turn in 4-under. A birdie on 10th made it 5-under. He suffered back-to-back bogeys on 12th and 13th but did get one back on 17th, only to drop a shot on 18th.
The Bermuda Championship, which has allowed 500 spectators a day as the PGA Tour threw the event open for fans for the first time since the PLAYERS, has been upgraded to full status, which means 500 Fedex Points and an invitation to the Masters Tournament next year. Till last year, the Bermuda Championship was held in the same week as the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Three players Doc Redman, Vaughn Taylor and Chase Seiffert were at 65.
Three-time major champion and Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington opened with a 67 while Fred Funk, the 64-year-old regular on the PGA TOUR Champions, shot 69 as he played in the same group as his son, Taylor Funk, who shot a 73.
The Bermuda Championship also heralds the start of consecutive PGA TOUR events allowing limited fans. The Houston Open has said it will sell no more than 2,000 tickets a day. The Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, the first event of 2021, also announced this week it would have limited fans.