Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri got off to another fine start with a three-under 68 that placed him at tied-19th at the end of the first round of the Valero Texas Open here. Lahiri has four birdies, three of which came in his first nine, the back stretch of the TPC San Antonio. He had four birdies and one bogey in all, but he did miss at least two putts from inside 10 feet. At one stage, Lahiri had three straight birdies, on 17th, 18th and the first as he teed off from the tenth. It was the seventh time in 10 starts that Lahiri has started the week with a round in 60s and the ninth time he has shot 70 or below in the first round. But it has been over the weekend that he has not been able to get the scoring up regularly. This season, Lahiri has made seven cuts in nine starts, but managed only one top-10. That lone top-10 was a third place finish at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, in October last year.
Since then he has also finished tied-11th at Honda Classic and t-13 at RSM Classic. South African Branden Grace had a 6-under 66 and led by a stroke after the opening round. Grace had a season-best 11th- place finish last week in defence of his RBC Heritage title. He led the 5-under 67s of Steven Alker, Stewart Cink, John Huh and Will MacKenzie. Alker, a journeyman New Zealander who played in the final group of the day, birdied the final three holes. There were 13 players packed two shots back at 4 under. That included 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and 2016 US Ryder Cup member Brooks Koepka. Ian Poulter needs to at least make the cut to keep his PGA Tour card for the remainder of the season but after a 75 that could be tough. Patrick Reed, who was born in San Antonio and was runner-up here a year ago, was three shots out of the lead after a 69. Defending champion Charley Hoffman, co-leader at the halfway point at the Masters, shot 71 and sat just outside the top 50.
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