New Delhi,V Krishnaswamy: Grit and determination was writ large on a face that at times seemed to be shaken by doubt and nervousness. Yet Anirban Lahiri walked the knife edge through a shaky start and a highly eventful back nine to come through the test and make the cut in his debut Masters. It also brought back memories of Lahiri making the cut at his debut at the British Open in 2012.
Lahiri with rounds of 71 and 75 totalled 146 for 36 holes and was tied 50th, right on the line that decides who gets a tee time for the weekend and who heads home from Augusta National. Lahiri fell on the right side and will stay for the final two rounds, and he shall once again have Lee Westwood (73-73), who like Lahiri, lived and died a few times before making the cut at the same total score. The two will be playing together for the third time in as many days.
Lahiri, the third Indian to tee up at Augusta, is only the second Indian to make the cut after Jeev Milkha Singh (2007 and 2008).
Starting the day inside Top-20, Lahiri wrecked his card with three bogeys in first six holes and from there on he was fighting to stay afloat. At times he came closer to safety like the birdie on the eighth and then the stunning eagle on the 13th, but both times he gave back those gains soon after having got them.
In the end, he was forced to live through a tense last two holes, during which he made his life no less difficult. Luck and pluck came together to see hit a perfect shot that missed the numerous limbs of the trees and sailed onto the green for a two-putt on the 17th. Then he mustered all his courage to come up with a chip from off the green to within two feet for a tap-in par as a relief swept through his exhausted body and drained mind.
He said, "I have to admit I was nervous on the back nine and I made some poor swings. And I didn't focus as well as I would have liked. Having said that, I'm glad I've got that out of the way. I think I need to be a little more patient and focus a little bit more tomorrow. Obviously, I was a bit distracted today."
Summing up, he said, "I got off to a terrible start, (with bogeys on) third and fourth and then followed that up with sixth. I didn't execute my plans at all. Obviously, I was not able to focus as well as I would have liked. I fought back well, but I just hit so many loose shots today."
The eagle on 13th would also fetch him a pair of crystal goblets, as the tradition goes at the Masters and that would make a for nice present for his wife, Ipsa, who walked through the 18 holes for second day running and endured the tense moments.
Talking of his safe play on 18th, when he used a 3-wood instead of a driver, he said, "I had been missing it left, which is why I hit a 3-wood off the 18th, just to make sure that I keep myself in play."
Then he allowed himself a smile, saying, "So I'm glad that my head was working, if my swing wasn't, that's a good sign for me. Hopefully, both work tomorrow."