Austin (US): For the second year running, Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri has been paired with Justin Rose as the top seed in Group for the WGC-Dell Matchplay in Houston, Texas.
Anirban Lahiri. Pic/AFP
The other two players in the group are WGC-Dell Matchplay debutant, Fabian Gomez, who won the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this year, and Matt Kuchar, the 2013 champion, when it was still a single-elimination event.
Lahiri meets Kuchar in the first match of the Group stage, while Rose will meet Gomez. A year ago, when Lahiri made his debut in the event, he beat Ryan Palmer, who was seeded above him. And then he gave Rose a real close fight before losing on the first extra hole, the 19th hole.
In his third match, Lahiri lost to Marc Leishman, who went in to top the group, as Rose was eliminated. Leishman, in turn, was beaten in the first round elimination by Gary Woodland, who went on to reach the final before losing to Rory McIlroy.
A total of 64 players have been divided into 16 groups of four. Each group has a top seed and World No.1 Jordan Spieth has to contend with Justin Thomas, Victor Dubuisson and Jamie Donaldson and with only the top player moving into the next stage, it will indeed be a tough first group stage for Spieth.
Kuchar is coming off a missed cut at Bay Hill last week, while Anirban was tied second in his defence of the Hero Indian Open, an event co-sanctioned by Asian and European Tours. It was also Lahiri's best result in his last 12 starts.
Rose was T-9 last week at Bay Hill and it was his 10th top-10 finish in his last 18 starts. In six other times he's finished inside the top 25. Gomez won the Sony Open in Hawaii to rise inside the top 64 but he's struggled since then and missed the cut in four of the last six starts.
Defending champion, Rory McIlroy has been grouped with Kevin Na, Smylie Kaufman and Thorbjoen Olesen. Jason Day, winner of Bay Hill last week, is grouped with Paul Casey, Thongchai Jaidee and Graeme McDowell.