Augusta (Georgia): Indian golfing ace Anirban Lahiri grinded it out on yet another tough scoring day in challenging conditions to card a three-over 75 in the third round and move up to Tied 38th at the Masters, here.
High winds, which changed direction suddenly, pushed the average score to more than four shots over Augusta National’s par and played to just over 76, more than a shot more difficult than the second day.
That meant Lahiri despite his over par score actually made ground and moved up from overnight Tied-47th. Lahiri’s 75 took him to eight-over 224 and he is now 11 shots off the leader, Jordan Spieth (73).
At the top, too, there was mayhem but Spieth held on to the lead for the seventh successive round at the Masters dating back to the first round of the 2015 edition. He had a four-shot lead when he came off the 16th green, but a bogey on 17th and then a double bogey on 18th saw him fall back.
Smylie Kaufman, a PGA Tour rookie, shot the best round of the day at three-under 69 – the first round in 60s since Thursday, to be sole second at two-under 214, while veteran Bernhard Langer (70) was tied third with Hideki Matsuyama (72), who also dropped two bogeys in last three holes.
The 58-year-old Langer, who could become the oldest Major winner ever, won the second of his two Masters in 1993, which was before the 22-year-old Spieth was born, while Kaufman, 24, was 16 months old and Matsuyama, 24, was 10 months old.
Coming back to Lahiri, he had two birdies, first on the Par-5 second and the next on Par-4 seventh, besides five bogeys. He bogeyed first, third and fifth and then 15th and 16th. The stretch between 15-17 has cost Lahiri no less than seven shots in the last three days.
“Well, I played good and shot three-over and I had three three-putts, so it is not as if I played badly. On the contrary, I think I played quite well. I just did not score and didn’t get the putts to fall,” Lahiri said.
Lahiri likened the toughness to a school examination, saying, “It’s like writing an exam. For four and a half hours you have to just grind it out. At no point can you let up even a moment. It is really difficult conditions out there.”
Saying the course did not give anything and one needed to be patient, he added, “Through this week, I have played well enough for 13-14 holes and then had a weak finish and given away a lot of shots each day. It can be mentally exhausting when you have to check so many things like lie, ball flight, wind, when it is changing and so many things, so it is like being in a Brain Gym all the time. There is no option but to be patient.”