Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri carded his second straight three-under 68 and moved inside the top-20 of the USD 7.3 million Mexico Open at Vidanta.
He set himself up for another good finish as he continues his journey towards getting back to the top-50 of the world.
Lahiri, who found 15 of the 18 greens in regulation, is now six-under and tied-18th alongside fellow Asian star, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who took his father’s advice to enjoy the game, and shot five-under 66.
Meanwhile Arjun Atwal, playing only his second event since last Fall, exited early after rounds of 73-71. He was even par and the cut was set at two-under 140.
World no 2 Jon Rahm played well in the wind taking eight birdies on his way to a five-under 66 that gave him a two-shot lead over Alex Smalley. Six players including former Masters winner, Patrick Reed are at T-3 at nine-under.
Lahiri starts with solid 68, Rahm leads in Mexico Open
Lahiri, starting from the first tee, hit most of his approaches between 15-20 feet for the first six holes before driving his tee shot on par-4 seventh to inside 25 feet and then two-putting for his first birdie of the day. On the 637-yard par-5 12th hole, the Indian reached the green in three and sunk a 10-foot putt for birdie to get to two-under for the round.
A third birdie followed on the 585-yard par-5 14th hole, where he hit his second shot from rough to around 30 feet and two-putted for a birdie. On the 16th he missed a seven-footer for par and on the 18th he holed a 24-footer for a satisfying birdie and a day’s card of 68 that moved him up from overnight T-34 to T-18.
Lahiri, looking for his first win worldwide since 2015’s Hero Indian Open, finished runner-up at Player’s Championship and was T-13 at Texas Open. He is 58th on the FedExCup standings and 85 in world rankings.
The burly Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who was in danger of missing the cut after an opening 70, which featured a career first ace on the PGA TOUR, equalled his lowest score of the season following six birdies against a lone bogey to climb from T-61 to T-18 ro enter the weekend.
Lahiri and Aphibarnrat were joined by Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira (69) and Chinese Taipei’s C T Pan (70). The quartet are six shots behind the leader Rahm of Spain.
Rahm birdied all four par 5s, including the 18th hole and was 12-under 130 going into the weekend.
Cameron Champ, who played alongside Rahm, also handled the wind well and shot 66 to reach nine-under 133.
Champ and Reed were joined by Trey Mullinax (69), Adam Long (66), Brandon Hagy (67) and Andrew Novak (67). They are tied for third at nine-under.