Tokyo, Japan, 29-07-2021

Anirban Lahiri placed tied eighth in round one after a terrific opening round of four-under-67, lies four shots off the lead; Slow start for Udayan Mane with a 76

India’s Anirban Lahiri playing his second Olympic Games got off to a solid start with a four-under-67 in the first round of the Olympic Games men’s golf competition, which got underway at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on Thursday.

Lahiri, a former Asian Tour No. 1, fired six birdies against two bogeys to be placed tied eighth alongside Great Britain’s Paul Casey, Sweden’s Alex Noren and Mexico’s Sebastian Munoz at the end of day one.

Udayan Mane, the other Indian in the field of 60, had a fine start being two-under after eight holes. But he finished at five-over-76 to occupy 60th place.

Play was interrupted in between due to inclement weather when there was a threat of lightning.

The field was led by Austrian Sepp Straka who equalled the Olympic record score with his eight-under-63.

Anirban, coming off a third place at the Barbasol Championships on the PGA Tour, was happy with the start, as he said, “It was good. I think I started off a little dodgy first few holes, couldn't get my rhythm going early. But then I settled down nicely and played pretty good. I probably feel like I could have taken some more chances. On the back nine, I didn't make as many birdies as I could have. I have to build on this and as you can see already there's a lot of opportunities if it keeps playing like this, soft, there's not much rain today. You have to go out there and just be really aggressive and make a lot of putts.”

He managed good practice too, and said, “I got a full 36 in, nine every day the four days leading up to the event, so I felt pretty comfortable on the golf course. Obviously the tournament setup's going to be a little different but I feel like it wasn't as hard as they could make it.”

“Today we barely had any wind, so a good day to go out and take advantage. The greens are beautiful, they're perfect, they're rolling great, and the golf course is immaculate. So, yeah, I mean, I'm satisfied, I would have liked to be a couple of shots better, closer, but three more days to go.”

Lahiri, a two-time winner on the European Tour, started his week with a bogey on the first hole but then rallied by sinking some huge putts. Two of his birdies on the ninth and 15th came from 28 feet. Anirban enjoyed a purple patch from the fifth to the ninth where he picked up four birdies. He dropped a shot on the 12th but followed that up with back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th. He closed with two pars.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who was 6-under through 15 holes, had to wait for the weather to improve to finish. He added another birdie and was sole second at seven-under-64.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Mexican Carlos Ortiz shot six-under-65 each to be tied third.

Straka, ranked 161st in the world, equalled the record of 63 set by American Matt Kuchar and Australia’s Marcus Fraser who shot 63 in the 2016 Rio Games when golf returned to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.

By V Krishnaswamy

Picture Courtesy: Ben Jared / PGA TOUR / IGF

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