Lahiri battles cold, wet and windy conditions to rise to third at Wells Fargo

Potomac, 8 May: India’s Anirban Lahiri battled cold, wet and windy conditions to rise to the third place at the Wells Fargo Championship here, playing the third round of the golf event like a bruising and brutal boxing match.
The Indian ace, still looking for a breakthrough win on the PGA Tour after seven years, shot an even par 70, which looked likely to be much better till he came to home stretch.
He had birdies on eighth and nine, missed another on 10, but from 12th to 18th he dropped three shots while picking up just one more birdie on 14. Yet it was a great round considering the conditions.
Lahiri was 5-under and tied third but four shots behind Keegan Bradley, who for the second day running had the low round of the day. His 3-under 67 was the best on a day when there were just four sub-par rounds in the 60s.
The others came from Rory McIlroy (68) and Cameron Young (69) who are 2-under and tied sixth and Nick Taylor (69), who is -1 and T-13.
While Bradley led at 8-under 202, Max Homa (71) was 5-under and second, followed by Lahiri and James Hahn (72) at 5-under. Bradley, a four-time PGA TOUR winner, has never won after holding a 54-hole lead on the TOUR.
On another brutal day with sweeping winds, cold and rain, Lahiri compared his 70, which included three birdies and three bogeys, to a 12-round boxing match.
“It feels like I’ve just gone 12 rounds in a pro boxing match,” said the 34-year-old Lahiri.
“You’re fighting everything, you’re fighting your body, the elements, the water, the cold, the conditions. Yeah, it’s tough work and you just have to grit your teeth and kind of grind it out.”
He sank successive birdie putts from 24 feet and 16 feet on the eighth and ninth hole respectively before missing a long range attempt from 70 feet on the 10th. He picked his third birdie of the day on 14 from eighth feet and dropped bogeys on hole Nos. 12, 15 and 18.
“Right now I’m a little disappointed I drove it really poorly on the back nine, so that’s all I’m thinking about now, how do I hit more fairways coming in, how do I keep it in the short stuff, because even from the short stuff it’s hard to judge it,” he said.
“And if you’re in the rough, it’s getting to the point where it’s just a hack-out because there’s just so much water that the clubs — you would have seen it, the club’s just not getting through the grass at all.
“People are going to shoot some numbers out there, so I think as long as you’re making pars and giving yourself looks at birdies, you’re going to be in a decent spot.
“I guess people have quipped that I’m a good player in tough conditions or tough golf courses or bad weather, but I think all those things have the same thing in common and you have to kind of move on.
“You’re going to hit some good shots that are going to end up in bad spots, but you just have to move on. I guess I enjoy the challenge of just accepting what’s going on and just trying to move on and hit the next shot.”
Coming into this week, Lahiri has played 157 tournaments on the PGA Tour, and finished runner-up twice once at the 2017 Memorial Tournament and THE PLAYERS Championship in March. The latter earned him his career’s big pay check of USD 2.18 million at the TOUR’s flagship tournament.
After his effort at the TPC Sawgrass, which was also played under difficult conditions, Lahiri has posted two top-15s in his last three starts and moved to 55th on the FedExCup standings and is 85th in World Rankings.
In his third round, Lahiri will look to driving better as he found only nine fairways during his third round but was delighted with his iron play.
Defending champion and three-time Wells Fargo Championship winner McIlroy moved from T-50 to T-6 following a 2-under 68.
Halfway leader Jason Day shot 79 and dropped from 10-under to 1-under and was now T-13.
Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, and Korean duo Si Woo Kim and K.H. Lee carded matching 70s to share the 13th place on 1-under. (AP)