Golfer Lahiri opens with 69 in World Challenge

Albany (The Bahamas), Dec 4 (IANS) India’s leading golfer Anirban Lahiri went through a good opening round of three-under 69 as he finished tied 10th in his Hero World Challenge debut at the Albany Golf Course here.

World No.39 Lahiri, playing on a special exemption in the $3.5 million 18-man field event, was on Thursday three strokes behind joint leaders World No.24 Paul Casey of England and the United States duo of world No.11 Zach Johnson and No.25 Jimmy Walker.

The 28-year-old Indian, who teed off alongside world No.1 and defending champion Jordan Spieth of the United States, got off to a perfect start with a birdie on the first hole before picking up another on the sixth. But the current Asian Tour leader dropped a shot on the par-five ninth hole.

The Bengaluru golfer made a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-four 13th hole to again go two-under before a birdie on the 15th. He made par efforts on the rest three closing holes to settle for 69.

He shared the 10th spot with world No.13 Patrick Reed and No.41 Chris Kirk.

Meanwhile, Walker birdies four of the final five holes for a 66 to go into a three-man lead with Casey and Zach, who won his second Major at the 2015 British Open.

One shot behind them were the US trio of Spieth, world No.4 Bubba Watson and No.43 Bill Haas.

Spieth, winner of this year’s two Majors — Augusta Masters and the US Open, delighted the crowd with an ace (hole-in-one) on the second hole.

“It was a cool start to the day. It was a 6-iron like 175-ish playing about 10 yards further with the wind so I needed to take a little off of it. Absolutely flushed it right at the hole and didn’t think it went in. I started walking because balls have been sticking on the green so I thought it just stuck, but I guess it just crept forward that extra two feet,” the 22-year-old Texan said.

“With very few people watching, you don’t know if it’s really close or in when they cheer and then you look up and the ball disappeared. So it’s cool, it’s cool to have. Holes-in-ones in PGA Tour events are pretty awesome.”

World No.8 Dustin Johnson of the US was ninth with a 68. World No.6 Rickie Fowler and No.19 Matt Kuchar were tied 13th after scoring matching 70s.

World No.5 Justin Rose of England, No.23 J.B. Holmes and No.36 Billy Horschel shared the 15th place on 71, while No.14 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan struggled for a three-over 75 to finish 18th.

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