Golfer Lahiri struggles to 15th at World Challenge

Albany (The Bahamas), Dec 6 (IANS) India’s leading golfer Anirban Lahiri went through a disappointing third and penultimate round of one-over 73 that saw him take 15th position in the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge at the Albany Golf Course here.

The 28-year-old on Saturday got a three-day total of four-under 212 (69-70-73). Lahiri, playing on a special exemption in the 18-man field event, failed to collect a birdie in the front-nine but instead bogeyed the par-four fourth hole.

“I got a mud ball on fourth (meaning mud was stuck on the ball, but he could not lift to clean it because it was not on the greens) and that lead to an errant approach shot. It resulted in a bogey,” said Lahiri in a release.

On the back nine, the world No.39 did get birdies on 14th and 15th, but bogeys on 13th and 17th pulled him back and did not allow any recovery. He once again missed more than a few short putts.

“I just could not get going the whole day, neither on front or back nines,” said Lahiri. “It was overall quite disappointing as I got off to a bad start and never got any momentum going.”

On Sunday, the winner of Malaysia and India Open plays with world No.5 Justin Rose, who scored two-under 70 to be 16th on 213 total.

“Anyway I will try to finish strongly in the final round of the tournament, post which I will be taking off for sometime,” added Lahiri.

Meanwhile, big-hitting Bubba Watson of the United States opened up a two-shot lead with a error-free nine-under 63 that equalled a just set course record. The world No.4 has a 54-hole total of 19-under 197.

One shot behind the leader after the halfway stage, Watson hit the perfect pitch on Saturday with seven birdies and an eagle to zoom from one behind the overnight leaders Jordan Spieth, Bill Haas and Jimmy Walker, to surge ahead of the new second place holder, Paul Casey of England, who had shot a new record of 63 only four groups before him. The 63s by the duo bettered the old course record of Adam Scott by two shots.

Watson was at 19-under 197, one short of the 54-hole tournament record Jordan Spieth, set last year at Isleworth in Orlando, Florida. Two behind him was world No.24 Casey (66), who has not won since 2014.

In the third place were Patrick world No.13 Reed (66) and No.41 Chris Kirk, who after a fine 65 on second day added another 66 on third.

World No.1 and defending champion Jordan Spieth (68) and No.43 Bill Haas (68), who were among the trio sharing the lead after two rounds, slipped to tied fifth on 201, while No.25 Jimmy Walker (71) dropped from shared first to tied 11th on 204.

World No.17 Brooks Koepka of the US was seventh on 202 after scoring 65. World No.10 Adam Scott (66), No.6 Rickie Fowler (65) of the US and his compatriot Zach Johnson (67) shared the eighth place on 203.

Watson, a two-time Masters champion, almost did not make it to Hero World Challenge as he had not got his visa and papers for his daughter to come over to Bahamas. He was not in the original list but managed to get it closer to the event and then got a chance to make the field when world No.2 Jason Day of Australia pulled out.

The highlight of Watson’s round was an eagle on par-four fourth. He had seven other birdies, including on first and second and another on sixth, at which stage he was five-under through six holes. On the back nine he added four more birdies on 11th and 12th and again on 15th and 16th.

“As we’re seeing, when there’s no wind — light wind — we can score,” Watson said. “We’re all good players, don’t get me wrong. We’re all top 50 in the world. But with no wind, this golf course is a little bit easier to make birdies. Obviously, 20 mile-an-hour winds, this golf course becomes a beast.”

Casey made nine birdies in his opening 13 holes, and then had to settle for par for a third straight day on the reachable par-four 14th.

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