LYTHAM, England — India's Anirban Lahiri aced the par-3 ninth hole at Royal Lytham on Saturday in the third round of the British Open, stunning himself in his major championship debut with the shot of his life.
"Just when I thought that it was fantastic, it gets even better," Lahiri said. "That's probably the icing on the cake."
Lahiri, a 25-year-old from Bangalore, joined Jeev Milkha Singh, who made the field by winning last week's Scottish Open, as the first India duo to make the cut at a major.
"It takes the cake. It's a hallowed event for us," Lahiri said. "You want to put up a good performance for yourself, for your country, and so far I think I've done justice to that and I'm really happy about that."
Lahiri fired a two-under par 68 in Thursday's opening round and followed with a 72 on Friday and a 70 to stand at level par 210 after 54 holes.
After back-to-back bogeys on Saturday at the third and fourth, Lahiri birdied the eighth and then holed his tee shot at the links course's shortest hole, the 165-yard ninth.
"I walked up to that tee just having made birdie, which was very important to me. I walked up the tee and I was in between clubs again," Lahiri said.
"Yesterday I hit the wedge instead of a 9-iron, and found a greenside trap and made bogey. I just told my caddie, 'We'll take the 9, it doesn't matter if it goes past, I'll just hit it soft.'
"Made a good swing on it. It was looking a little right of the hole, but it got a really, really friendly bounce. I was just hoping it ended up close. When it goes in, everybody goes wild. I go wild. It was fantastic."
It was Lahiri's third career ace in a tournament, his first since last year's Hong Kong Open. But it came in the biggest event of his life and on one of golf's greatest stages.
"You are just looking around. You don't know how to express yourself," said Lahiri. "And then you see your dad jumping up out there blowing you kisses. These moments don't come every day.
"The ball's with my dad. I don't think anybody can take that away from him. He is thinking right now what he can do with it. Let's see how creative he is."
Lahiri won his first Asian Tour title last year at Delhi and this year became the first player to win the Asian Tour's SAIL-SBI Open on home soil, both triumphs coming in playoffs. He also helped India to a team silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
"Obviously this is the biggest event I've played," Lahiri said. "I always believed that I could compete with the best. I had that self-belief inside me.
"But when you see yourself among such company playing alongside them on a track like that and doing decently, you kind of reinforce that belief and make it stronger. I think it's really going to help me in the future."
Lahiri credits meditating with helping his game.
"I've been doing it this week and it helps me stay calm," he said. "I was getting a bit, I won't say agitated, but I was getting a bit overeager on the front nine after dropping two shots. I felt like I was playing really good."
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