Ever since he won a conditional card on the Asian Tour this year, Anirban Lahiri's predicament has been in keeping with the joke that does frequent rounds in sporting circles, “Golf is an easy game … it's just difficult to play.” Explaining his dilemma, the 21-year-old, who turned pro last year, said, “On the Asian Tour, one is faced with a quality field on quality courses week after week. At home, the field is not a problem but the quality of the courses is, making it boil down to managing motivation.”
Apart from the one-and-half hour delay due to fog, which led to 97 of the 118 participants completing their round, there was no other dampener to eat into the youngster's enthusiasm. Thriving on a quality course and against a quality field, Lahiri fired a seven-under 65 to surge into early lead on Day One of the BILT Open.
Rahil Gangjee came up with a late charge to upstage the duo of Jeev Milkha Singh and Shamim Khan and was a stroke adrift of Lahiri. At four-under 68, Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chowrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Gaurav Ghei and Bangladesh's Mohd Siddikur Rahman were in a six-way tie.
As part of his strategy to “plan and manage well”, Lahiri interspersed his birdies well, three coming on the front nine and four on the back nine. Aware of the exigency to score on the first two days, Lahiri adopted a “conservative line while playing aggressively to hit a lot of greens”. Aiding the approach was the course’s openness and being one of the Tour’s longest drivers worked in his favour.
Aware that a high here would aid an conditional Asian Tour card for next year, he refused to buckle when frustration set in after a couple of on-the-trot par shots.
Like the leader, Jeev, though happy to play his maiden event on the Tour and at Jaypee Greens, refused to read much into day's card of five-under." The course is playing excellent and I played well, but there are still three days to go, so let's see." He opened with a bogey on the 10th, his front nine, but settled down to sink back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th and again saved a shot on the 15th. The back nine proved to be more profitable with four birdies being logged as against the lone blemish.