Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar weathered the brutal conditions, carding an even-par 72 on day two to take a share of the third place at the prestigious USD 7 million ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf event here on Friday. Lahiri and Bhullar, playing their second World Cup together, moved up from Tied-seventh to Tied-third and gave themselves a solid chance over the weekend.
The Indian duo shared the third place with Malaysia’s Ben Leong and Gavin Green, who also fought hard for 73 in the second round. Korean duo Byeonghun An and Siwoo Kim battled it out for an even-par 72 to retain their overnight share of the lead after the Foursomes match on Friday.
The tournament will switch back to fourballs for Saturday’s third round, with the final round moving back to foursomes on Sunday. Despite the testing conditions with persistent rain and howling winds reaching 32 km/hr, An and Kim remained calm as they marked their card with three birdies against three bogeys at The Metropolitan Golf Club.
The duo, who opened their campaign with a solid 62 in the Fourball play on Thursday, holds a two-shot advantage together with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry, who posted a 71, on 10-under-par 134 total.
Lahiri said, “I think it’s one of the toughest rounds of golf I’ve played in my career, in a long, long time. I think we both did really well out there and it wasn’t easy. “Well, this is more like playing in Scotland, I think. We both had some experience playing links golf and you can draw to that with this and I think that experience came in handy. We both played a bunch overseas and you need that, you really needed that today.”
Lahiri said they were just focusing on each shot. “I think it was just one shot at a time, you know, for both of us. Whether we made a good putt or we hit a bad shot, we didn’t carry that forward, we left it behind and we just focused on the next shot and that’s the only way you can play in conditions like that,” he said.
“It was pretty consistent. We had a couple lapses in concentration which I did on the front nine. Maybe I could have made a couple of shorter ones, but Gaganjeet made a lot of par saves and you need that. You’re not going to have easy pars all day on a day like this and we did that really well coming in.”
Bhullar said, “The plan was to hit all the fairways, all the greens and make most of the putts, and as Anirban said, we played really well today. Anirban hit the ball so well from the tee, but I got all my favorite numbers. And putting wise, I think Anirban had some really good putts and I holed a few par saves. I think that kept the momentum going and that was one of the reasons we ended up playing well.”
Team Italy of Andrea Pavan and Renato Paratore and England’s Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton also joined Team India and Malaysia in third place following respective rounds of 71 and 74 at the halfway stage.
Mexicans Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz posted the day’s best score of a 70 to trail by three shots in seventh place while home favourites Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith slipped a further shot back to tied-eighth following a 76.
China’s Li Haotong and Wu Ashun recorded a 76 to tie in 17th place on 142 while Team Thailand and Team Japan were a further three shots back in tied-21st after posting disappointing rounds of 78 and 79 respectively.