La Quinta, California, Jan 22: Anirban Lahiri got off a fine start with a four-under 68 and was lying tied-15th in the first round of The American Express on Thursday. Lahiri opened with a bogey, but steadied himself to pick five birdies and finish with a solid round on a course that is more difficult of the two on which the PGA TOUR tournament is being played.
Brandon Hagy, a late replacement for Jon Rahm in the field, carded a 64 highlighted by 10 birdies to take the lead. Korea’s Byeong Hyun An got his New Year off to a near perfect start by firing a 7-under 65 in the first round with seven birdies on the Nicklaus Tournament Course and fellow Korean
Lahiri said, “I got off to a shaky start with a couple of average shots. I just started the day and it was actually a good putt for par. It was a break that went over the lip so that was a bit weak like I’ve been feeling and against the run of play.”
“I did hit a few iron shots that kind of finished right where I wanted to hit them. But I kind of got it back later in the round. I hit a lot of good shots but didn’t really make a lot of birdie putt and then I got a couple of bonuses. I missed a really short foot on 14 and on 13 where I hit a really good birdie putt that kind of slipped out. Then I made that monster putt around 15, so kind of evened it out. I’ve been partying really good but I haven’t really had a lot of luck from long range so it was nice to see one of the really big ones go in.”
“And then I just played solid pretty much through the rest of the round but a little disappointed not to birdie the par fives on the front nine. But the Stadium Course is a tricky course. So, you know, if you can shoot in the 60s, that’s definitely a solid on a golf although I feel like I could have probably picked up two or three more shots but that’s how it is. I think if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll definitely keep making birdies and it’s another week where you have to keep doing that. Tomorrow’s a different golf course, Nicklaus Tournament, usually plays a short or a short and half easier than the stadium Course.”
Hagy made a string of three consecutive birdies on three occasions en route to his lowest score since posting his career-low of 9-under 63 at La Quinta Country Club in round two of last season’s The American Express. It fell a stroke shy of career-low, while Byeong Hun An came in with five missed cuts in seven starts.
Si Woo Kim, was among the bunch of players, at 66.while two other Koreans Sungjae Im and K.H. Lee registered 68s.Making his first start in The American Express, Brooks Koepka posted an even-par 72 at Nicklaus Tournament course. The Tournament host Phil Mickelson was way behind at T-132 after a 2-over 74 at Nicklaus Tournament course and last week’s winner at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Kevin Na opened with a 3-over 75 at Stadium Course.