Anirban Lahiri romped to victory in his first match at the World Golf Championship Cadillac Match Play tournament being played at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Lahiri, ranked 35 in the world, never trailed in his match against world No. 23 Ryan Palmer. The 27-year-old from Bangalore rammed home a five-footer to birdie the first hole and take an early lead.
A second birdie on the par 4 fourth hole, where Lahiri dropped an 18-footer, put him 2-up but Palmer fought back with birdies on the fifth and eight holes to draw level again.
Lahiri took the lead again on the par 3 ninth after a tee shot to 10 feet set up his third birdie of the day. After Palmer missed the green on the 10th and failed to get up and down, Lahiri found himself two holes up once again.
He extended his advantage with another stunning tee shot on the par 3 13th, this one to five feet and his fourth birdie of the day put him 3 up with five holes to play.
Palmer looked like he might steal a hole back after hitting his second shot to 8 feet on the 14th while Lahiri missed the green on the right but Lahiri’s short game bailed him out as he chipped in for yet another birdie. Palmer made his putt to half the hole but he was only delaying the inevitable.
Both players made par on the 15th, and after Palmer missed his birdie attempt on the 16th, he conceded the match, giving Lahiri a 4&2 victory.
“I played really solid and didn’t make too many mistakes and made a few putts,” Lahiri said after the match. “I was fairly happy. Ryan had a good chance to get back into the match on 14. That’s the turning point for me – chipped it in from the rough over the green to keep it 3 up. That was very important.”
The win gives Lahiri an early advantage in his group, which also features World No. 6 Justin Rose and World No. 60 Marc Leishman, who beat Rose 3&2 in the other match. Next up for Lahiri is Rose, who won the Zurich Classic on the PGA Tour last week and who will be looking to bounce back after unexpectedly losing to Leishman.
Lahiri also had a celebrity fan in his gallery - NBA basketball player Andre Iguodala - who tweeted that he "Just got out here in time to watch my man" and that Anirban was making golf look easy.
The Match Play event is using a new format this year, with the world’s top 64 golfers split into 16 groups of four. Only the top player in each group will go through to the round of 16. In case of a tie, head-to-head results will be the tie-breaker.
The event is also Lahiri’s fourth on the PGA Tour. He missed the cut at the Houston Open but made the cut at the Masters, the year’s first Major, and the RBC Heritage two weeks ago, where he shot a 5-under 67 in the third round, his best completed round on the PGA Tour so far. Lahiri was 6-under through 16 holes in beating Palmer.
You can watch Lahiri chipping in on the 14th hole below.
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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2015 14:35:56 IST