India’s Anirban Lahiri maintained his rich vein of form to shoot a flawless 6-under 66 at the Sanderson Farms Championship for tied seventh place, two off the lead, after the opening round on Thursday.
The 33-year-old Lahiri enjoyed a first top-10 in nearly two years at last week’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship and carried his new-found confidence to this week’s PGA TOUR stop at Country Club of Jackson by firing six birdies against no bogeys.
Four players – Charley Hoffman, Kevin Chappell, Jimmy Walker and defending champion Sebastian Munoz – carded matching 64s to share the early lead.
“Obviously confidence is up. I feel like I’m playing really well. I like this golf course. Last year was my first time here, and I really like the way it sets up. It reminds me a lot of the tracks I grew up playing in Asia. Conditions were great and I enjoyed myself out there,” said Lahiri, who finished T45 here last season.
The tenacious Indian hit 15 greens in regulation and converted birdie putts on Hole Nos. 3, 7, 10, 12, 14 and 15. Riding a hot putter, he drained putts of 24 feet on the seventh hole and from 32 feet on the 12th hole.
For nearly two years, Lahiri failed to produce his ‘A’ game but the TOUR’s enforced three-month shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic proved to be a blessing in disguise.
He spent over a month with his coach Vijay Divecha in India where they dismantled his game and rebuilt the swing to ensure the key fundamentals that helped him win seven times on the Asian Tour previously remained intact.
Playing in his sixth consecutive season on the PGA TOUR, Lahiri is still looking for a winning breakthrough.
“I’m just trying to stick to my process and check the boxes and be happy with that. The results are coming right now. I’m swinging it good, feel like I’ve got a good grip on my putter, which you need this week. So yeah, I’m in a good place. I feel confident. I guess it’s good to have that motivation to get to Vegas now, I guess, or maybe even better. So we’ll see,” said Lahiri, who is a two-time International Team member at the Presidents Cup.
“I think the lockdown really helped to start. I was in India for five months. I left pretty much the Monday after Bay Hill to go play the Indian Open, and then we got locked in. They closed the borders down. So I was there for a long time. Spent about 40 days straight with my coach before I came back out here, and I got back to the basics, undid a lot of the bad habits that had crept into the game and just tried to clean up the game, clean up the mind and just get really — just prepare. So far so good,” said Lahiri.
Korea’s K.H. Lee opened with a 68 which included five birdies against a lone bogey while Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan shot a 7 in a round which featured five birdies, one bogey and one double bogey.