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Golf: Lahiri’s lucky 17 opens up ‘whole world’; Jeev sings praises

Anirban Lahiri needs to remain in the world’s top 50 by March 30 to qualify for the Masters. Photo: AFP.

Anirban Lahiri needs to remain in the world’s top 50 by March 30 to qualify for the Masters. Photo: AFP.

February 23, 2015: Anirban Lahiri admits that a whole new world has opened up for him after winning the US$1.5 million Hero Indian Open, his second Asian and European Tour co-sanctioned title in three weeks.

 

Earlier this month, the India No. 1 won his biggest-ever title at the US$3 million Maybank Malaysian Open to leap to World No. 37, while his victory at Delhi Golf Club on Sunday lifted him to No. 34 in Monday’s Official World Golf Ranking.

 

Now, the 27-year-old has a golden opportunity to automatically qualify for majors – starting with the Masters Tournament in April – and World Golf Championships events.

 

“It is fantastic,” said Lahiri, who needs to be in the world’s top 50 on March 30 to automatically qualify for the Masters. “Now the whole world is opened to me. I’m really excited. This is what dreams are made of.”

 

However, the Indian admitted he has enjoyed the rub of the greens on a couple of occasions on his way to recent victories. On Sunday, he celebrated what he described as a ‘magical’ chip-in from off the 17th green before going on to win a playoff against third-round leader SSP Chawrasia.

 

Two weeks earlier, Lahiri holed a 50-foot putt, also on 17, on the final day of the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur before recording a one-stroke victory over Bernd Wiesberger.

 

“I got a slice of luck and that doesn’t happen often in everyone’s career where things go so well,” Lahiri said on Sunday. “I’m going to try to keep playing well and see what happens. I have to stay focused and ride the momentum.”

 

Last year Lahiri won the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters and Venetian Macau Open before finishing second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. This year, he’s already a runaway leader after just three co-sanctioned events, amassing US$772,300 to lead Andrew Dodt by over US$400,000.

 

Furthermore, Lahiri has now won seven times on the Asian Tour, eclipsing legendary compatriots Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa who only had four, three and two wins respectively when they were Lahiri’s age.

 

Singh, 43, is arguably India’s most successful golfer, with six titles and the 2006 Order of Merit win on the Asian Tour, four European Tour victories and four Japan Tour trophies. The long-time European Tour regular believes Lahiri will keep India on the world golfing map and inspire others to follow.

 

“It’s good to see the young Indian players doing well, especially Anirban. These kids have more knowledge and awareness about fitness and what they need to work on. They have the right guidance by their coaches and they work hard at it, and that’s the main reason these young players are doing well, especially Anirban,” Singh said.

 

“In the future, I think we will see more young players coming out from India and they will also be inside the top 50 in the world.”

 

Kyi Hla Han, Chairman of the Asian Tour, is personally pleased that Lahiri has helped ensure Asian Tour members continue their strong run in European Tour co-sanctioned events.

 

“Lahiri’s latest win has made it five consecutive victories at the last five co-sanctioned events with The European Tour,” said Han, himself a former Asian Tour Order of Merit champion. “Our members have shown that they can be counted upon to make an impression on the big stage and I’m confident this trend will continue.”

 

Asian Tour Order of Merit (Top 20)

1 Anirban LAHIRI (IND)                   US$772,300.00

2 Andrew DODT (AUS)                     US$354,330.00

3 S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND)            US$229,639.55

4 Scott HEND (AUS)                          US$218,710.00

5 Thongchai JAIDEE (THA)             US$207,670.00

6 Richard T. LEE (CAN)                    US$184,233.33

7 Paul PETERSON (USA)                  US$134,400.00

8 Marcus FRASER (AUS)                  US$115,771.43

9 Wade ORMSBY (AUS)                    US$109,700.00

10 Jason KNUTZON (USA)               US$92,583.33

11 Prayad MARKSAENG (THA)        US$90,550.00

12 Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA)  US$84,933.33

13 Carlos PIGEM (ESP)                      US$81,400.00

14 Nathan HOLMAN (AUS)               US$78,200.00

15 Jeunghun WANG (KOR)              US$71,533.33

16 Mithun PERERA (SRI)                   US$71,250.00

17 Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) US$64,510.00

18 Shiv KAPUR (IND)                          US$53,000.00

19 Prom MEESAWAT (THA)              US$49,921.43

20 Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA)  US$45,520.00

 

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

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