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Golf: Lahiri makes “massive” major statement with top-five finish

Anirban Lahiri finished joint fifth at the PGA Championship for India’s best finish in a Major. Photo: Asian Tour.

Anirban Lahiri finished joint fifth at the PGA Championship for India’s best finish in a Major. Photo: Asian Tour.

August 17, 2015: Asian Tour star Anirban Lahiri wrote a slice of Indian sporting history with an eye-catching joint-fifth finish at the PGA Championship on Sunday as he reinforced his growing reputation in world golf.

 

The 28-year-old fired a closing four-under-par 68 for a 13-under 275 total to enjoy his best-ever outing in a Major and surpass countryman Jeev Milkha Singh’s tied-ninth finish at the 2008 PGA Championship.

 

With his superb showing at Whistling Straits, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader jumped from 53 to 38 on the latest Official World Golf Ranking, helping his chances of a place on the International Team at the Presidents Cup in Korea in October.

 

“It’s been a fantastic week. I won’t really say I was in contention here because I was a long way out, but I was in the mix,” said Lahiri, who signed for earlier cards of 70, 67 and 70 and finished seven shots behind winner Jason Day of Australia.

 

“It’s a great feeling. It’s massive for me. It gives me so much confidence. It also tells me that I can compete with the best on the toughest courses and the best fields. It also tells me that I need to get just a little bit better and maybe I’ll be back here more often.”

 

A seven-time winner on the Asian Tour, Lahiri said his career-best finish in a Major will push him forward towards his ultimate goal of becoming a Major champion one day.

 

“This is more a pressure reliever than anything else; pressure from myself because I know I’m good enough to compete out here. This week kind of puts that to rest. I can come out here and play more freely, not having to prove anything to myself,” said Lahiri, who has won four times in the past 18 months.

 

The winner of the long drive competition on Tuesday, Lahiri turned in 32 with four birdies during the final round before a three-putt bogey on 10 knocked him off his stride. He fought back with two birdies but dropped a shot at the last from the greenside bunker.

 

“I putted a lot better, but it’s obviously the scoring aspect that I feel is lacking a little bit. I think that’s where I need to tighten it up, just around the greens and make a few more 10 and 12-footers,” said Lahiri, who played alongside Matt Kuchar, who also shot a closing 68 to finish one spot behind the Indian.

 

“I was really in a good zone. I was playing well; I was hitting it good. I think the three-putt on 10 from five or six feet was like a kick in the stomach for me. It just knocked the wind out of me.

 

“Then I did really well to gather myself from a difficult position. But again, it was a kind of disappointing finish in the end. I think a couple of shots better would have got my card on the PGA Tour, so I’m a little bummed about that.”

 

Lahiri now feels he can now stand shoulder to shoulder with golf’s current crop of top stars, where the top-three ranked players – Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Day – are all in their 20s.

 

“I didn’t really feel out of place. I think that’s a massive positive for me. I felt really comfortable whoever I was playing with and whenever I was playing and whatever I was doing. I felt very much at home and I think that’s a good sign,” he said.

 

Source: Asian Tour (www.asiantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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