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Golf: Lahiri raises Masters ambitions with rise to World No. 37

Anirban Lahiri’s dream of a Masters debut was given a huge boost with victory in Malaysia. Photo: Asian Tour.

Anirban Lahiri’s dream of a Masters debut was given a huge boost with victory in Malaysia. Photo: Asian Tour.

February 10, 2015: Anirban Lahiri of India has his sights firmly set on making his Masters Tournament debut in April after rising to a career-high ranking of World No. 37 on Monday following his stunning win at the Maybank Malaysian Open.

 

Lahiri, 27, who finished second on the 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit and was voted as the Players’ Player of the year, is in a strong position to qualify for the year’s first Major, as well as the International Team for the Presidents Cup in Korea in October.

 

The India No. 1 beat Austria No. 1 Bernd Wiesberger by one shot in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to claim his third win in 10 months, adding to his previous three Asian Tour titles while securing his first on The European Tour.

 

Lahiri also became the third straight Asian Tour member to win in the Tours’ co-sanctioned events, following David Lipsky’s win at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and Scott Hend’s victory at the Hong Kong Open last year.

 

Now, the in-form Lahiri is seeking to compete in his fourth major, having finished 31st at The Open Championship, but missed the cut in both The Open and PGA Championship last year. The Indian next competes in this week’s inaugural True Thailand Classic, another co-sanctioned event.

 

“I’ll have a long chat with my manager to try to figure out how best to schedule the coming months. Playing in the Masters is now a realistic goal, so that’s definitely one of the things I’ll consider. There’ll be a lot of thinking, but I’ll definitely be back in Asia playing a few events here. I love playing the Asian Tour and I’ll continue to support it,” said Lahiri.

 

“That’s what is so important apart from the pleasurable win. The logistical advantage of this win is that I can plan my schedule. A lot of players play less or more to plan for the Majors. All the best players in the world have the luxury to do that.”

 

Through his European Tour Qualifying School category, Lahiri played in Abu Dhabi through a sponsor’s invite last month but failed to get into the fields in Qatar and Dubai in the following two weeks. The Indian was disappointed to miss out, but won’t face such problems for two years after earning a winner’s category on The European Tour.

 

“I sat at home for two weeks knowing that the desert events are really good events played on great golf courses with lots of world ranking points. I sat at home thinking I should be out there competing,” Lahiri said.

 

“I think that put the fire in me and I  wanted to come out and take my opportunity. I said, whatever I get I’m going to take, because I don’t want to be in this situation again. That was my attitude – just go out there and do whatever you have to. In hindsight it sounds very nice, but that’s how it turned out and I’m very happy.”

 

Lahiri’s win in the Asian Tour’s season-opening event was worth US$500,000 and gave him an early lead in the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

 

Paul Peterson of the United States and Richard T. Lee of Canada, the 2013 Rookie of the Year, shared second place with earnings of US$99,300 after finishing tied fifth in Kuala Lumpur, while India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia is fourth with US$60,000.

 

The Asian Tour’s leading players will next compete in the US$2 million True Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain, which starts on Thursday.

 

Asian Tour’s Order of Merit – Top-20

Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)

1. Anirban LAHIRI (IND) $500,000

2. Richard T. LEE (CAN) $99,300

2. Paul PETERSON (USA) $99,300

4. S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) $60,000

5. Wade ORMSBY (AUS) $51,700

5. Nathan HOLMAN (AUS) $51,700

7. WANG Jeung-hun (KOR) $45,000

7. Scott HEND (AUS) $45,000

9. Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) $33,960

9. Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) $33,960

9. Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) $33,960

12. Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $28,950

12. Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) $28,950

12. Marcus FRASER (AUS) $28,950

12. Danny CHIA (MAS) $28,950

16. LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) $24,450

17. Andrew DODT (AUS) $21,000

17. Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) $21,000

17. Rashid KHAN (IND) $21,000

20. KANG Sung-hoon (KOR) $18,000

20. Carlos PIGEM (ESP) $18,000

20. David LIPSKY (USA) $18,000

 

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

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