India’s Anirban Lahiri and England’s James Morrison are tied for the lead in the race to become the leading debutant at the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Lahiri aced the short 9th on Saturday on the way to posting a level par 70 and is now tied with Morrison on level par 210 after the Englishman returned a 72.
The pair go into the final 18 holes with a one shot lead over 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, his lesser-known compatriot Justin Hicks and former England Boys’ team captain Matt Baldwin whose sole win as a professional came on the Challenge Tour at the 2011 Fred Olsen Challenge de Espana.
Further down the list of rookies who made the cut South Africa’s Garth Mulroy, England’s Dale Whitnell and 2011 US Walker Cup player Harris English are all on 212, Japan’s Yoshinori Fujimoto and America’s Ted Potter Jnr are tied on 214, Juvic Pagusan from the Philippines is at 216 while experienced European Tour player Rafael Cabrera-Bello is languishing 13th and last on the list on 217.
26 year-old Bradley is by the best-known player among the first-timers but it is Lahiri who stole the headlines with his ace at the 9th. He gave the golf ball he used to his excited father and is determined not to let things slip over the final 18 holes.
“I got a members’ bounce,” he said in reference to the first ace at this year’s Championship before admitting he had made an exploratory trip to Lytham in May.
“I think coming in May and playing a couple of rounds probably helped me to befriend the course.
“But the game’s such a leveller,” he added. “You keep playing this game and you realise the game always wins. That’s why you love it. That’s why you play it.”