San Francisco: Anirban Lahiri will take on World No. 23 Ryan Palmer in the opening match of the World Golf Championships Cadillac Matchplay which gets underway at the TPC Harding Park in san Francisco.
Anirban Lahiri. Pic/PTI
The other two players in the group include Justin Rose, the runner-up at Masters and winner at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week, and Marc Leishman, the World No. 60, who has had a very modest season so far with three missed cuts in seven starts. Lahiri, who has two wins on European Tour events co-sanctioned with Asia this year, has missed one cut in four starts on PGA Tour.
He made cuts at Masters and RBC Heritage, as he tries to find his way around on PGA Tour on the basis of World Ranking of No. 35. Lahiri, who confesses to loving match-play - he had a fine outing for Asia against Europe last year EurAsia Cup, where he scalped Victor Dubuisson, who has been in the rankings No. 20 since last year. Lahiri won three points out of three matches - fourballs, foursomes and singles.
He partnered Bangladeshi Siddikur to beat Dubuisson and Joost Luiten in foursomes and again beat the Frenchman 2&1 in singles as Asia tied Europe 10-10. Lahiri and India's Gaganjeet Bhullar beat Fernandez Castano and Stephen Gallacher in fourballs on first day. Rose is in good shape for the re-formatted WGC-Cadillac
Match Play Championship, after his 30-hole marathon to win the Zurich Classic in Louisiana.
His second place at the Masters three weeks ago showed he was in great nick and in the absence of Jordan Spieth at New Orleans, Rose finished 21 under par and bogey-free over his final 66 holes. The matchplay format has been revamped to ensure the game's biggest names remain in the tournament at least until the weekend. The straight knockout format has been replaced with 16 groups of four each headed by a top-16 player with the remaining three drawn at random.
The group winners will go forward to the weekend, with eight quarter-final matches due to be played on Saturday and the semi-finals and final on Sunday. If Rose is to make it all the way to the final, he faces a second Sunday of 30 holes-plus. World No 1 Rory McIlroy resumes his season after finishing fourth at Augusta in a group featuring a trio of Americans, Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner.
After taking his leave on the first day of this tournament last year, McIlroy is hoping for a better fare. Should he qualify he will also hope for some good scheduling so that he can make it to Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather - Manny Pacquiao extravaganza on Saturday night.