Anirban Lahiri roars back with bogey free 64; Perez opens 4-shot lead

October 14, 2017

CIMB Classic golf tournament


KUALA LUMPUR: Anirban Lahiri roared back into contention at the CIMB Classic golf tournament with a stunning bogey-free 64, his second best-ever round at the TPC Kuala Lumpur, here on Saturday.

That helped him move up from overnight four-under and T- 23rd to a healthy 12-under and sixth place after three rounds on a day, which was cloudy to begin with but became hot and sultry as it wore on.

Meanwhile, India’s other challenger, SSP Chawrasia wilted under the heat and shot 74 to drop to T-60th at one-over 217.

For the second year in succession, the leader goes into the final round with a four-shot lead as Pat Perez continued with his remarkable transformation from being a journey man this time last year to a Top-30 star.

Perez’s eight-under 64 with nine birdies and one bogey on par-4 13th saw him swell his lead from one to four over Xander Schauffele (67), while Korean Sung-hoon Kang (65) stayed third.

On a rather low-scoring day, when 32 players shot in 60s and 55 were under par in a field of 78, the day’s best card came from Hideki Matsuyama (63), who shared the fourth spot with Keegan Bradley (65).

Though Perez is four clear of Schauffele, the former would do well to remember that Lahiri, too, led by four and yet lost to Justin Thomas last year.

Lahiri was sole sixth at 12-under, one ahead of Ollie Schniederjans (65) and Jazz Wattananond (66) at 11-under.

Lahiri came close to his career-best 62 at the TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2015 when he had won the Maybank Malaysian Open, before adding the Hero Indian Open title during a highly successful three-week period.

On Saturday, despite managing just one birdie from the four Par-5s, he shot 64.

On the traditional moving day, Lahiri got off to a good start with birdies on the second and fourth before adding two more on the seventh and eighth.

The Indian kept his foot on the pedal on the back nine to get to seven-under with birdies on par-3 11th, par-4 12th and Par-4 14th. He finally tamed a Par-5 after getting to the green on two on 18th to close at 64.

Lahiri found 17 of the 18 greens slightly better than 16 out of 18 on first day. But on Saturday he holed a few more putts – 28 as compared to 30 and when he missed the fairways he missed them on the right places.

“I wasn’t feeling very good this morning when I was warming up on the range, so I just went out there just trying to manage around the golf course. I hit a few good shots to start my round. I think I was pretty solid,” Lahiri said.

“The bad shots that I hit, I think I missed it in the right places and managed to get away with it. To go bogey free is important; and after yesterday’s disappointment it was important for me to try and get a little closer to give myself a run on Sunday.

“I think the course has gotten a lot better, so you see a lot of good scores. With the sun coming, the greens are just drying out a little bit so the ball’s rolling better and a little faster. Also, with the wet rough (on second day), it’s been really difficult.”

For Sunday, he said, “Well, Pat (Perez) is at 21-under and I’m at 12, so I’ll have to do at least what I did today or better to have a chance. But at least I’ll have a chance.”

The day saw a hole-in-one for Korea’s Whee Kim, who aced the par-3 15th to drive away with the a BMW car. Kim shot 71 and is T-52nd at two-under for the tournament.

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