Lahiri takes lead in SAIL Open golf

Updated: Mar 22, 2011, 16:52 PM IST

New Delhi: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is determined to improve on his recent Asian Tour finishes and charged up the leaderboard with a stunning six-under 66 in the morning session of the SAIL Open on Tuesday.

Lahiri kept his driver in the box as he took a one stroke lead over Sri Lankan Anura Rohana at the challenging Delhi Golf Club in the USD 300,000 tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGTI. Big hitting Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, still looking for his maiden Asian Tour victory, shared third place with countryman Prom Meesawat and India`s Manav Jaini, who had a great outing at the Hero Honda Indian Open last December.

Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, who turned professional just a week ago, gave his fledgling career a flying start with a card of 69 to lie in tied sixth place. Lahiri said it was the first time in 11 years since he opted not to use a driver and was rewarded with five birdies and one eagle against one bogey for his best score at the Delhi Golf Club.

"I`m hitting my three wood and that`s good enough. I decided yesterday evening to take my driver out. It was partly because this golf course has narrow fairways and also because I haven`t been hitting it very well with my driver," said the
23-year-old. He was delighted with his strong start but admitted that he could have gone lower. "I missed about six putts inside 12 feet for birdie but I`m not complaining. I`m just happy, I`m giving myself a lot of scoring opportunities," he said.

Thailand`s Kiradech, who started on the back nine, made the turn in 34 before adding an eagle three on the first hole, which he sank from four feet. He credited his strong iron play where he found 16 greens in regulation for his good start. Playing in his first Asian Tour event as a professional, Tabuena, 16, was delighted to outshine some of the more experienced players.

"I want to go out there and try my best. It shows that I can compete with the bigger guys. I`m not expecting much but it was a good result for me today," said Tabuena. Tabuena earned his Asian Tour in Qualifying School earlier this year as an amateur before deciding to take his career to a new level.

He said working with decorated Canadian coach Rick Gibson has helped him adapt faster to life as a professional.

PTI