Golfer Lahiri second in CIMB Classic

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 21 (IANS) India’s golfer Anirban Lahiri fired a second consecutive six-under 66 to be second while defending champion Justin Thomas pulled two shots clear of him at the halfway stage of the $7 million CIMB Classic here on Friday.

Reigning Asian Tour number one Lahiri was poised to tie Thomas but suffered a double bogey at the par-five 18th hole, the second straight day he has dropped two shots at the end of his round.

The 29-year-old Indian, who was fifth on Thursday, has a two-day total of 12-under 132 — two shots behind leader Thomas.

Lahiri, runner-up in Macao last weekend, was kicking himself after dropping shots late his in his round for the second successive day.

Otherwise, his day was perfect. He started with three straight birdies before making birdies on the fifth and seventh holes. He piled further birdies on the 10th, 13th and 14th before the final hole difficulty.

“It’s just very disappointing to finish the way I did. Both days I think I left four or five shots out there coming in. I would have liked to be in a better position the way I’ve played but it’s not over yet,” said Lahiri, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour and chasing a first PGA Tour title.

“If I can switch that around the next two days, and get in the hunt on Sunday afternoon, I think I’m playing well. Hopefully I can just keep the intensity through the weekend.”

He hopes his familiarity with TPC KL, where he won the Malaysian Open here last season, will continue to reward his superb play and lead him to a maiden win at the CIMB Classic, the only PGA Tour sanctioned event in Southeast Asia.

“The last three weeks have all been courses where I’ve won, so when you go back to a course where you won, you already feel positive to start, and I think that’s what I needed (after returning from injury). It’s been so much guesswork for me in America the past season,” he said.

“I’m definitely swinging it better. Just feel like I’ve got to work on the mistakes. I’ve not made too many errors, but when I’ve made an error, I’ve kind of compounded it this week.”

The 23-year-old American Thomas, who has held at least a share of the lead since last year’s second round, was rock steady once again at TPC Kuala Lumpur as he put together six birdies on his card for a 66 that took his tally to 14-under 130.

Scotsman Russell Knox produced the round of the day with a brilliant nine-birdie 63 to charge into a share of third position with American James Hahn and Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, who both carded 64s. They are three back in the prestigious tournament sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.

Among other Indians in the fray, Gaganjeet Bhullar and S.S.P. Chawrasia were tied 54th and joint 73rd respectively. While Bhullar carded 70 that took his total to one-under 143, Chawrasia got a total of four-over 148 following a second straight 74.

–IANS

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