SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: Anirban Lahiri of India lines up a putt on the fourth green during the third round of Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course on April 03, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
April 4: A confident and composed Anirban Lahiri moved into Top-5 with a second straight 3-under 69 that took him to 7-under 209 for 54 holes at the Valero Texas Open on Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas.
Four birdies against one solitary bogey gave him a chance to make a bid for his maiden PGA Tour title, as he lies five shots behind co-leaders, Jordan Spieth (67), who has not won for three years, and Matt Wallace (67) who is searching for his first win on PGA Tour. Spieth and Wallace are 12-under, while Charley Hoffman (65), winner here five years ago, is two back in third.
The 33-year-old Lahiri moved from T-8 to T-5 on a course that continued to play tough in somewhat windy conditions and on a day when rain and inclement weather delayed the start.
Lahiri said, “I’m really happy with the way I played. I think this is the most solid I’ve played tee to green in a while. I felt really calm. I kind of knew what I was doing and it’s really nice. I do feel like I left quite a few shots out there. I would have liked to be maybe two, three shots better, but still got a look at it tomorrow. So if I can go out and do the same things, maybe make a couple more, it would be nice to get in the hunt.”
On the improvements beginning to show, Lahiri added, “You’ve got to work at it. I know the results haven’t showed it, but I know I’ve been getting better. My ball-striking hasn’t been anywhere near my usual standards. I just got down to it with my coach. We’ve been doing a lot of work back and forth and just trying to simplify things. I think I was making things more complicated than they need to be and I think that’s been the key this week.”
Lahiri did miss many putts from inside of 12 feet but got four birdies on fourth, 11th, 14tth and 17th against a bogey on Par-4 15th.
He went on, “A golf course like this it is really good if you can have good strategies and that’s really helped me. There’s a lot of good players. Again, there’s two main things out here, it’s conditions and pin positions. I think today, after the rain, today was probably the best day to really go deep. The greens are rolling a lot better with the extra moisture. So it will be interesting to see what the weather forecast is, how the golf course is set up. I’m just going to have to come out with a clear plan on which holes to attack, which holes to be a little more conservative. The idea is when you start coming back towards the clubhouse when you get to 15, you want to have a shot at it. On the homeward stretch, if I can give myself a look, I’m pretty sure I can get it done.”
Lahiri has not won worldwide since 2015 Hero Indian Open, a title that even co-leader Wallace has won in the past, made his PGA TOUR debut in 2016. The seven-time winner in Asia and two-time winner in Europe, has come close on a few occasions to joining countryman Arjun Atwal as a winner on the world’s premier golf circuit. He holds a career best finish of T2 at the Memorial Tournament in 2017 but this year missed five cuts in seven starts.
Korea’s K.H. Lee sits in T21 on 3-under after a 70 in the third round while Si Woo Kim, Sung Kang and Hideki Matsuyama are a further shot back following rounds of 70, 72 and 73 respectively.
Lahiri will need a good start to get the momentum and make the big charge on the back nine.