Magical number beckons Anirban, but it’ll take some doing

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Anirban Lahiri reacts to missing his birdie putt at the second hole during the second round of THE NORTHERN TRUST at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City on Friday. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Anirban Lahiri reacts to missing his birdie putt at the second hole during the second round of THE NORTHERN TRUST at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City on Friday. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Anirban Lahiri ran on fumes en route to a second successive 2-under 69 to safely make the weekend rounds of THE NORTHERN TRUST on Friday but knows he needs to power up to progress into next week’s BMW Championship in the FedExCup Playoffs.

After starting strongly with three successive birdies on his front nine at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, the 34-year-old Indian suffered bogeys on 14 and 15 before bouncing back with a birdie at the next hole to conclude his day in tied 36th place.

Lahiri requires at least a top-10 finish this week to have a chance of improving on his 121st ranking and move inside the top-70, which is the cut-off for the second Playoffs event. He is four strokes outside the top-10 presently, and eight behind leader Jon Rahm of Spain.

 

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Korea’s Sungjae Im will enter the third round as the highest ranked Asian in a share of 17th place and six off the lead after a bogey-free 66. He made birdies on Hole Nos. 3, 5, 7, 10, 13 and 16, allfrom within of 12 feet and hit 12 fairways and 16 greens in regulation to rank third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. Japan’s reigning Masters winner, Hideki Matsuyama, meanwhile, fired a 67 which included a disappointing triple bogey on his last hole for T25 on 137.

 

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“To be honest, I’m running a little low on energy and I think it caught up with me towards the end a little bit,” said Lahiri, who found 10 fairways and 11 greens during his second round.

 

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“Four or five of the last holes, I missed putts from inside pretty much of 15 feet on all of them except for the last hole. I’ve been playing really well I think. Played well yesterday morning in the tough conditions and could have shot two or three better, and today’s conditions were absolutely ideal and the golf course was right there.

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“I got off to a good start and in the middle part of the round, I didn’t take the opportunities that were in front of me. I’ve been playing well and just haven’t quite haven’t made as many putts as I need.”

His flatstick did deliver some early sparks with conversions of 18 feet and 13 feet for gains on the fourth and fifth holes, before tapping in from close range a third successive birdie on the par 5 sixth. Lahiri fought hard to find his range with his iron play which subsequently left him fighting for pars coming in.

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“I’ve put myself in a good position for the weekend. If I keep doing what I’m doing, I just need to sharpen up on the greens and maybe get some better greens tomorrow as I won’t be playing absolutely last and try to take advantage. I feel like I’m playing well. I just need to put 36 holes together and keep pushing my body, said Lahiri.

Korea’s Im, who finished as the leading Asian in the final FedExCup standings in 11th position last season, put himself back in the title hunt with a flawless performance. “I had many changes to make birdies because I hit some good tee shots and second shots. It helped me keep focusing on my game and make a low score. I think I would get better scores if I can keep this form and condition going until the final round,” said the 24-year-old.

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