Dubai: Anirban Lahiri, hoping for a solid start to his final European Tour event of the year, got off to a very modest start in the first round of the DP World Tour Championships with a one-over 73, here on Thursday.
Lahiri, the only rookie to have won two events this year at the Malaysian Open and the Hero Indian Open, also admitted he missed his regular caddie, Rajiv Kumar, who could not make it because of Visa issues and Lahiri had to make do with a local player on the bag.
He is seven shots behind the leaders. "I missed Rajiv on the bag and that did affect a bit," Lahiri, who is making his debut in the DP World Tour Championships, said.
Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sullivan and Marcus Fraser, all of whom shot six-under 66 to get off to a bright start on the Greg Norman layout, Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Lahiri, who came back after a week's rest, having skipped the BMW Masters in Shanghai last week, said, "I don't think I played too badly. It was just that some of the shots that I was trying to being creative did not work. Some of the shots that I hit bad were the ones I was trying to three-quarters and punch shots."
He added, "I had three bad shots and that meant bogeys and I didn?t make as many putts. I missed Rajiv on the bag. A couple of mistakes I made, I wasn't able to decide able to commit to a shot because I wasn't sure. Like on fourth par-3 and then back on 15th. Indecision, two bad swings, two bogeys and suddenly you are not scoring. On 17th I was trying too hard.
"I did make birdies, but each time I gave them away with bogeys in next 2-3 holes. I am disappointed for sure, because I wanted to make a decent start, but let?s I will now try to make a comeback tomorrow. There is more golf to play."
A bogey free six-under 66 gave Ian Poulter a share of the lead alongside Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer, England's Andy Sullivan and Australian Marcus Fraser. However, World number six and defending champion Henrik Stenson crashed to an opening 77, his worst score in 21 rounds in this event.
At five-over and 11 shot behind the leaders, he faces a herculean task while attempting to complete a hat-trick of DP World Tour Championship wins.
Rory McIlroy, who is looking to defend the Race to Dubai Money List he won last year, holed a bunker shot on the 18th to move to four-under 68 and tied sixth place alongwith his closest rival for the Money honours, Danny Willett, who also birdied the last hole.
The others tied at sixth include last-minute entrant, Alejandro Canizares, veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, Presidents Cup hero, Branden Grace, Mathew Fitzpatrick, a strong contender for Rookie of the Year honours, Chris Wood and Fabrizio Zanotti.
The 39-year-old Poulter, who has not won since November 2012, said, "There's a lot at stake. I think more of it is probably pride than anything else. Dropping outside the top 50 (in the world) isn't very nice. Being down list on the Order of Merit is not very nice. And wanting to put some points on the board for Ryder Cup would definitely be very helpful."
He takes 10 weeks off after this event.