Sports

Anirban Lahiri’s back nine run fetches his best result in almost 18 months

V Krishnaswamy NAPA | Updated on September 14, 2020 Published on September 14, 2020

Anirban Lahiri finished the Safeway Open with two-under 70 that saw him at Tied-36 for his best finish on the PGA Tour in nearly 18 months. It may have been even better but for a double bogey on Par-5 seventh and a bogey on Par-3 15th after going bogey-free on second and third days at the Silverado Resort.

Lahiri, who had four birdies in his last seven holes, finished the week at 12-under as the 47-year-old Stewart CInk scored his first PGA Tour win since the 2009 success at The Open at Turnberry. Cink closed with a closing birdie on 18th for a 7-under 65 after suffering late bogey on the 17th. His total of 21-under was two shots better than Harry Higgs.

Lahiri hit 11 of 18 greens and a good day with the putter, especially from inside 10 feet.

Lahiri, bogey free since the 18th, his ninth hole on the first day, went without dropping a shot for 49 holes when he came to the 538-yard fifth hole, which he had birdied on each of the first three days. Lahiri hit his first tee shot to trouble and needed a penalty drop. He hit his third shot to the left rough and eventually got on the green in five, from where he two-putted for a double bogey. It was a big blow to his hopes of making a significant move on the final day.

He fought back immediately for a birdie on sixth from 12 feet and he turned in one-over. He found his touch back and gave himself birdie chances on both seventh and eighth from 15 and 16 feet but missed both. He missed another chance from the fringe from 11 feet on 11th, but finally got going from the 12th, where his 138-yard approach landed within six feet and he moved to even for the round. Another fine approach shot on 14th gave him a birdie putt from under six feet and he holed it. On the Par-3 15th, he went into the left rough from where he pitched to 10 feet but missed the par putt going back to even for the day.

On the 571-yard par-5 16th hole, Lahiri reached the green in three and sank a two-footer for birdie. Finally on the 18th, which he had eagled on Day 3, Lahiri reached the green in two, but his superb 50-footer eagle putt slipped past the cup leaving him an 18-inch tap-in birdie and a 2-under card.

It was Lahiri’s best result in the last 25 starts on the PGA Tour and it was also the first time Lahiri was playing all four rounds at Safeway Open, where he missed the cut in 2018 and 2019. Lahiri’s T-30 at Valspar in March 2019 was his best finish in the last one and a half years.

Indian American stars Akshay Bhatia, Sahith Theegala do well

Indian American teenager Akshay Bhatia shot his third round in the 60s and rose to Top-10. It was the first cut he had made in the PGA and it earned him a Top-10, getting his career off to a fine start and he also gets a start in the next event in the Dominican Republic.

Sahith Theegala, the college sensation who bagged all amateur honours earlier this year, also recorded his best professional result, carding 70 in the final round after a 64 on the third day. He finished T-14.

While Higgs at 19-under was second, Doc Redman closed with a 62 -- matching the lowest round of the tournament -- to tie with Brian Stuard (70), Chez Reavie (66) and Kevin Streelman (67) at 18 under.

Cink is the oldest PGA TOUR winner since Phil Mickelson at 48 at Pebble Beach in February 2019. In 2009 at Turnberry Cink beat the then 59-year-old Tom Watson in a four-hole playoff.

Cink gave a short-game masterclass on Sunday with 10 one-putts and had a clean record from the bunkers.

Stuard, Cameron Percy, and James Hahn entered the day tied for the lead, but Percy (74) pout himself out of the running was done with a three-hole that went double bogey, double bogey, bogey.

Hahn (72) bogeyed three of the first six holes and couldn't recover. Stuard was 1 over through eight and chased the leaders the rest of the afternoon.

Redman, who began the day eight strokes behind the leaders, closed with six consecutive birdies to take a two-stroke lead. The 22-year-old stayed on top for about two hours until Cink's final push.

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Published on September 14, 2020
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