St Andrews (Scotland): Anirban Lahiri gave the Old Course due respect by staying patient and reaped huge benefits as he came back with a bogey free two-under 70 that brought his 36-hole total to five-under and pushed him into the Top-10 of the leaderboard at the 144th Open Championships.
India's Anirban Lahiri reacts after making a birdie on the first green in his second round 70, on Day Two of the British Open on Friday. Pic/AFP
While the leaders and some top performers of the first day were yet to tee off when Lahiri finished, the 28-year-old Indian is likely to stay in the Top-15 or better as the conditions could become tougher in the second half of the day.
Lahiri, who shot into global spotlight by winning twice in three weeks at Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open, both European Tour events, co-sanctioned with Asian Tour, admitted he would have taken five-under for 36 holes at the start of the week.
"Sure, who would not have taken it. This is the Open and at the Old Course. It does not get better or tougher and the conditions have been demanding," said Lahiri. Having said that, he admitted, "There were couple of close misses, the third and eighth, when the ball stopped just one roll short of the hole. Then on the 18th I missed another birdie chance."
Despite that Lahiri is in with a great chance to better his best at the Open, which is T-31 on his debut in 2012. The best result in a Major by an Indian is T-9 by Jeev Milkha Singh in PGA Championships in 2009, while the best by an Indian at the Open is T-27 by Jyoti Randhawa in 2004.
Of the 18th, he said, "It was sad to end there. It would've been nice to back up 69 with 69. I was thinking about when I got to it. Then I probably had the worst stroke of the day and missed it, and managed par."
Lahiri who played extremely well on first day for a 69 that had three bogeys on front nine and an even-par back nine in tough and windy conditions, was steady through the second day, which began three and a half hours later than scheduled for him. The play, soon after start, was suspended at 6.46 am because of rain and water on the greens.
As in the first round, Lahiri opened with a birdie on the first. Then he had the mortification of seeing the ball stop at the lip on third and eighth.
"I was patient and that was the key. It was frustrating as I hit many good shots but was just not making the putts. But I was conscious not to be too hard on myself as it's so easy to tell yourself you're not going to get many opportunities and you got to make them count."
Willet takes lead
Meanwhile, Danny Willett was the leader by two at the halfway stage of the 144th Open Championships. The second round is far from being complete, with first leader Dustin Johnson just about teeing off late yesterday, but Willett added a 69 to his first round 66, at nine-under and he is two clear of Marc Warren (68-69), Zach Johnson (66-71) and Adam Scott (70-67).