JERSEY CITY: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri carded a two-under 69 in the opening round of The Northern Trust to keep alive his hopes of extending his run in the FedExCup Playoffs here.
The 34-year-old, who qualified for the first of three Playoffs events in 121st position, needs to jump inside the top-70 this week and his cause was helped with a solid showing amidst swirly conditions at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey.
American Justin Thomas, who was the FedExCup champion in 2017, and Spaniard World No. 1, Jon Rahm carded matching 63s to share the first round lead, with Harald Varner III of the U.S. sitting in third place following a 66.
Lahiri pencilled down four birdies against two bogeys for a share of 15th position with amongst others, Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, and knows he needs further gains up the leaderboard with his current projection placing him 90th on the FedExCup points list.
"I think I played really well. I hit my irons really good today, and you needed to. I think conditions were extremely hard," Lahiri said in a release.
"So you just have to do everything good. You have to hit it in the fairway to start, and then the course is going to ask you some questions with your mid and long irons, and you just have to answer them.
"I did feel like I didn't putt very well. I had a lot of chances, gave myself a lot of looks. Probably left two, three shots out there, but all in all, I'm satisfied"
Following a challenging season where he came down with COVID-19 and endured limited starts due to his playing category, Lahiri is starting to show some good form again.
The two-time International team member at the Presidents Cup finished tied third at the Barbasol Championship last month and needed two late birdies on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship to safeguard his top-125 status on the FedExCup points list to return to the Playoffs after missing out the last two seasons.
"It's nice. It feels familiar," said Lahiri of his return into the Playoffs.
"It feels like home. It feels like where I should be year after year. It doesn't really feel odd or feel new in that sense, but, like I said, I've come into this Playoffs feeling really good about my game."
While he chases a higher position on the leaderboard, Lahiri understands the need to conserve his energy levels after a busy run of tournaments over the past two months which included a trip to the Tokyo Olympics where he finished tied 42nd.