Webb Simpson takes lead, Lahiri misses cut after a stellar Day 1
Webb Simpson takes a 36-hole lead and with that, with his round of 63, he tied the course record at TPC Sawgrass, tied the tournament record with six straight birdies, tied the 36-hole record, and took a record five-stroke lead over Charl Schwartzel (66), Patrick Cantlay (68), and Danny Lee (66) into the weekend at THE PLAYERS Championship.
So, is it already the time to announce his win? Maybe, given his five-shot lead.
“I think, more than ever, it’s easier to be a chaser on today’s PGA TOUR in general,” said Adam Scott (68, 7-under), who is eight shots back. “The line between birdie and bogey is becoming finer, and when the leader has that pressure and makes an error, bogey is so much easier to make these days.”
“Sure, he has to feel pretty good about where he is,” Scott continued, “but I had a seven-shot lead at Bay Hill a couple of years ago, and then it was down to three. And then you lose. There’s as much golf to be played as we’ve already played, so certainly he can be caught.”
Only three players in the history have taken a three or more shot lead into the weekend, and all have won: Lanny Wadkins (1979, three-shot lead), Greg Norman (1994, three-shot lead), and Jason Day (2016, four shots lead).
Simpson has already been a four-time winner on the PGA TOUR and currently stands at 36th in the FedEx Cup.
Simpson is positive about his game and does not undermine the fact that his feat can be repeated over the weekend.
“If I can shoot 9-under today, a guy can go out and shoot 7-, 8-, 9-under tomorrow, and shrink it pretty quickly,” he said. “I think it’s a beautiful golf course in the sense that I could go shoot a few under tomorrow because there are birdie holes out there, but if you’re off a little bit, you make bogeys or double bogeys as easy as you can make birdies. I don’t think any lead is safe.
The opening round co-leader and current World No.1 Dustin Johnson dropped down to a T-11th position on the board with his round of 1-under-71 on Friday, taking his total to 7-under-137 to join Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, and Adam Scott.
Anirban Lahiri misses cut
Anirban Lahiri misses another cut after missing it last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, but this time the margin stood at just a shot. After a stellar 69 on Thursday, everyone expected him to keep his momentum up but it did not happen. Lahiri posted 3-over-75 with three birdies, four bogeys, and a double-bogey on the par-3 13th. The cut line set at 1-under-143, became a target so close yet too far away for Lahiri after his two days score totaled to level-par 144.
Lahiri currently stands 107 on the FedEx Cup rankings and 100 on the Official World Golf Rankings. His T-2nd finish with Rickie Fowler at 2017 the Memorial Tournament has been his best finish till date on the TOUR and is expected to shine soon, after these recent hiccups on his journey to his maiden win on the TOUR.
The only Indian PGA TOUR winner is Arjun Atwal, who won the 2010 Wyndham Championship.