India’s star golfer Anirban Lahiri stayed in the frame with a four-under 68 that carried him to 12-under for two rounds and placed him tied third at the midway stage of the CareerBuilder Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation here.
Lahiri, who had a share of the four-way lead after the first round, is now three shots behind leader, former Major winner Jason Dufner (64-65), who is at 15-under 129. Jamie Lovemark (65-65) is lying second at 14-under while Lahiri, alongside Adam Hadwin (66-66), Jason Gore (68-64), Andrew Loupe (66-66) and Bill Haas (66-66), was tied for third at 12-under.
“There was a lot happening out there. I got off to a good start and then lost my concentration around the turn. Got it back and then lost it again. So, yeah, it was up and down, I definitely left a few shots out there,” said Lahiri of his second round in his first event on the PGA Tour in 2016.
Lahiri, after a stunning 64 in the first round, opened the second round from the tenth and had a nice eagle on par-5 11th, added a birdie on 16th but then seemed to lose concentration. A bogey on 17th, his eighth hole, and then he had four pars in a row, where he could have had a birdie or two. Then came a hat-trick of birdies on fourth, fifth and sixth, at which point he moved to five-under for the day. Then again he lapsed with bogeys on seventh and eighth, where he had a three-putt.
The final hole, the ninth of the Nicklaus Tournament course, he got nailed a 28-footer for a closing birdie.
On his final hole birdie, Lahiri added, “It was relief more than anything. You don’t want to make 6 or 7 from the fairway and after walking off with a 3-putt on 8, then it was nice to get that in.”
Summing up his round, the two-time winner in Europe last year, added, “It was an up-and-down day. Lots of good shots and some bad ones coming in. I missed a bunch of putts today. I feel I am still in a good position for the weekend, so hoping to play better next couple of rounds.”
Lahiri was also getting over his jet lag and said, “I think I’m a lot better. I felt pretty much like I was back on time last evening. Although I think I started hitting it a little shorter towards the end of my round again. But I think it’s getting back to normal now.”
Lahiri has now played on La Quinta and Nicklaus Tournament Course and his third round will be the PGA West’s TPC Stadium Course, said to be the toughest of the three.
It was at the Stadium Course, that leader Dufner shot seven-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Jamie Lovemark.
The Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course is back in the event rotation after being dumped following its debut in 1987, and the Nicklaus Tournament Course is being used for the first time.
“It’s a difficult golf course,” Dufner said. “There’s a little bit of room to play off the tee, but if
you get off the path a little bit, you can get into some trouble. He’s (Dye’s) got some water out there. He’s got some tricky bunkers. You get some uneven lies here and there. ...
It’s definitely the most difficult of the courses we have played here” Dufner had only 22 putts, one-putting 11 of 12 greens in the middle of the round.
Defending champion Bill Haas was three strokes back in the company of Jason Gore, Lahiri, Andrew Loupe and Adam Hadwin. Haas shot 66, Gore 64, and Lahiri 68, all at the Nicklaus Course. Loupe had a 66 on the Stadium Course, and Hadwin a 66 at La Quinta.
Phil Mickelson was 11 under in his first start since the Presidents Cup in October and first since splitting with swing coach Butch Harmon to work with Andrew Getson. The 45-year-old Mickelson had a 65 on the Nicklaus Course.