Anirban Lahiri got off to a fine start with a three-under 69 in the first round of the Shell Houston Open here.
Lahiri, who makes his second appearance at the Masters next week, had five birdies against two bogeys and was lying tied 32 on a low-scoring opening day.
Also shooting 69 were three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed and Angel Cabrera.
Sitting on top of the leaderboard was three-time PGA Tour winner Charley Hoffman, who has nine birdies in his 18 holes and just one bogey for a card of eight-under 64 that gave him a one-shot lead over four others, including Dustin Johnson, Morgan Hoffman, Scott Brown and Roberto Castro.
Lahiri had a great start with three birdies in first six holes and briefly held a share of the lead, after being among the early starters. A 16-foot birdie was a great beginning on the first and he drove his tee shot to inside seven feet for a birdie on par-3 third. Another fine iron shot on sixth set him up for a four-foot birdie and he was cruising at three-under.
He went from right rough to left rough on the par-5 eighth and went over with his third. The next one, a chip left him a 24-foot for par and he ended up with a bogey. On the back nine, Lahiri birdied the 12th and 15th, but dropped a shot on 14th. He also missed a short birdie putt on 10th and some more between 10-15 feet.
Lahiri was positive about his round, despite some missed putts.
“I played solid, but unfortunately did not make too many putts from outside 10 feet,” he said.
But he left the course in a good frame, saying, “I am feeling great about ball striking and hopefully I can find some scoring rhythm as the tournament progresses.”
This is Lahiri’s 10th start on the PGA Tour’s 2015-2016 season, which started with CIMB Classic in Asia late last year.
Jordan Spieth, who hasn’t won a title since January and also surrendered his world No. 1 ranking to Jason Day on Sunday when the latter won the World Golf Championships Match Play in Austin, shot 67 on the back of some good driving and iron play. He was tied-10th.
Former Masters champions Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Angel Cabrera all posted 69s.
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, also playing the Masters next, was going great with three birdies on his front nine and a series of eight pars from 10th to 17th. He was three-under on the 18th tee and then he double bogeyed the 18th to finish at one-under 71 and was tied 83 on a low-scoring first day.