Lahiri seeks ‘miracle’ finish for podium place at Olympics

A Correspondent TOKYO | Updated on July 31, 2021

Anirban Lahiri

American Xander Schauffele takes one-shot lead over local hero Hideki Matsuyama

A birdie, eagle finish failed to lift the spirits of India’s Anirban Lahiri as a third round of 3-under 68 on Saturday left him six shots outside of a potential podium finish at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men’s golf competition.

The PGA TOUR star was frustrated by the fact he was unable to keep his foot on the pedal at Kasumigaseki Country Club’s East course after an opening 67 on Thursday was followed up with an uneventful 72, which took the wind off his sails. He stands at 6-under 207.

“It’s been a disappointing 36 holes. I had a good finish to my round, but I’m very disappointed, and barring a miracle, it will be hard for me to get on the podium tomorrow,” said Lahiri, who is featuring in his second Olympics.

“I felt I was playing well and the first round started good, but my second round, I kind of lost my momentum and never got it back. The course was very gettable but I haven’t played anywhere near my A-game the last day-and-a-half.”

American Xander Schauffele ground out a 68 to take a one-shot lead on 14-under 199 over local hero Hideki Matsuyama (67), who is looking for gold some three months after a historic Masters Tournament victory, which made him his country’s first male major champion. Paul Casey of Great Britain and Mexican Carlos Ortiz share third place on 12-under, which Lahiri acknowledges will require a very low round for him to have any chance to catching them for a potential Olympic medal.

“On this course, you have to get on a hot stretch, like make three birdies in a row and take advantage of the par 5s, which I haven’t really done. You look at Xander and how he finished his second round, five under in his last five. There are stretches like that on this course where you can take advantage and I haven’t done that. It’s been a tough ball striking week for me unfortunately,” said Lahiri.

“If you don’t hit the fairways, you can’t be aggressive. You have to first put it on the short grass and then be as aggressive as you like. My irons have been poor and that’s why I haven’t made as many birdies as I should have. I went through 27 or 30 holes where I made two birdies on this course, which is quite poor.”

This week’s weather disruptions coupled with the heat and humidity at Kasumigaseki have made it challenging for many golfers, Lahiri included. “It’s extremely hot. For the guys who had to come back this morning to finish their rounds and who were here till late yesterday, myself included, it was quite energy sapping. You needed to make birdies to get that energy going. I’m going to rest and come back out tomorrow and maybe try to shoot a 59,” he said.

Compatriot Udayan Mane carded a 70 for a share of 55th place on 2-over 215.

Published on July 31, 2021

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