India’s Anirban Lahiri hopes to regain his confidence swiftly in time for his final round after three bogeys in his last five holes left him with an uphill task of catching up with the leaders at The Open on Sunday.
The current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader was poised to spring one of the biggest surprises this week when he flew under the radar in his first 11 holes, staying just one shot off the lead at nine-under then.
However two bogeys on holes 13 and 14 followed by another on the treacherous Road Hole 17 slammed the brakes on his charge as he signed for a one-under-par 71 at the Old Course in St Andrews.
“It was a tough stretch and that’s probably the toughest stretch on this golf course. I should have been in the 60s today at worse so it’s disappointing.
“My game is right up there and I just need to get my confidence back on the greens. I don’t think I’m doing much wrong, so it should be a simple fix,” said Lahiri, a seven-time Asian Tour winner.
Lahiri came out with all guns blazing as he sunk two birdies in his opening four holes.
He reached the turn in 33 after another birdie on nine and followed up with another red number on 11.
Trailing the leaders by just one shot at that stage, Lahiri appeared to be joining the likes of Korea’s K.J. Choi and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee in heading towards the final round within striking distance of the third round leader.
Choi was two shots back of Greg Norman in Royal Birkdale in 2008 while Thongchai started his last 18 holes four shots behind Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009.
The 28-year-old, was however left with a putter that turned cold from the par-four 13.
“I missed only one green today but when you have 34 putts in a round, that’s not a good sign. I hit it to 25 feet on 13 and had a realistic birdie chance but I missed a putt there. I got a little upset then and hit a bad drive on 14 that caused me a bogey again as it went into the bunker.
“I don’t think I played badly but it’s obviously disappointing when you shoot yourself in the foot when it comes to scoring,” said Lahiri, who compiled a three-day total of six-under-par 210.
The Indian will start his final round six shots back of third round leaders, Irish amateur Paul Dunne, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Australia’s Jason Day in tied-26th position.
“I’m playing well enough to make birdies and I have to try to keep a clean sheet like what I’ve done in my second round. That should help,” said Lahiri.
Meanwhile Korean-American David Lipsky, who pipped Lahiri to the Order of Merit crown last season, was pleased to have walked off the Old Course with a closing birdie which he sunk from 15 feet.
“I was giving myself chances all day. I’ve been hitting the ball very well the last three days and just haven’t holed any putts on the greens. So to make one on the last very nice,” said Lipsky.
Playing in his first Major, Lipsky is simply contented to tee up against world’s best players and is looking forward to ending his week on a high note after he signed for a third round 70.
“I went bogey-free in my last two rounds and I’m just very happy with myself and enjoying the experience here in St Andrews,” said Lipsky.