Sports

Anirban Lahiri backs himself and finishes 6th for best result in two years

V Krishnaswamy September 28 | Updated on September 28, 2020 Published on September 28, 2020

Anirban Lahiri felt confident even before he teed up this week at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship so much so he did not book a return ticket home but instead booked himself on a charter to the next venue. Yet, he found himself four-over after the first three holes, before beginning a terrific fightback and finished tied-sixth at the end of the event in the Dominican Republic.

Lahiri was amply rewarded for the way he backed himself as he shot 2-under 70 on the final day to total 13-under for the week and finish T-6, his first Top-10 in almost two years since the T-10 in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico in November, 2018. He was also T-6 at WGC-Bridgestone in August 2018. His last win was in 2015 at the Hero Indian Open.

Hudson Swafford (69), who at one stage held a four-shot lead, managed to hang in and fend off Tyler McCumber (66), who played with Lahiri, to win the title. Swafford totalled 18-under, one ahead of McCumber, while Mackenzie Hughes (70) was third at 16-under.

Swafford’s second PGA Tour win, the first since 2017, earned him 500 FedExCup points and entries to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, 2021 Masters Tournament, THE PLAYERS Championship and PGA Championship.

While Lahiri logged a fine finish, his colleague Arjun Atwal (77) slipped and ended T-70. What was even more pleasing for Lahiri was that the Top-10 finish ensured him a spot in next week’s Sanderson Farms Championship.

Lahiri said, “Well, I did not book a return flight and I booked myself on the charter (to the next venue), so this is going to be good for my confidence because I backed myself to do this.”

About next week’s Sanderson Farms, an event he has played in the past, Lahiri said, “I wasn’t in (he was the ninth alternate at one stage). Now this (Top-10) gets me in.”

Lahiri had the second highest number of birdies this week at 22 and led the field in putts per Greens In Regulation.

On Sunday, Lahiri made birdies on sixth, eighth, 12th and 15th and dropped shots on third and 11th.

Lahiri, who did not take advantage of any of the Par-5s on the final day, said, “I felt really good after my first event in Napa. I had two really good rounds to finish that event as well, so I got it rolling here with some of that. Definitely, I've managed to build that snowball and build some momentum. Hopefully I use this going forward and kind of keep this going and maybe even play a little better.”

It was a disastrous start for Lahiri on the opening day as he had a triple bogey on the second and a bogey on third to go 4-over through his opening three holes. He fought back with an eagle and a bunch of birdies and finished the first round at 69 and 72 on the second saw him make the cut on the line at 3-under.

It was Saturday's flawless 64, that ironically included a 3-putt, which brought Lahiri into the picture.

Lahiri admitted, “The last couple of seasons, I've been very disappointing, and where I find myself in my eligibility is not great, so I need to play myself into some of the events that I like to play. Definitely have a lot of opportunities in the fall that I need to take and build on that. Hopefully get closer to being really in contention on Sunday. I've had outside chances, but the goal is to kind of get to the last few with a realistic chance or maybe even a lead."

Meanwhile, China’s Xinjun Zhang, who started the final round in fourth position, endured a disappointing final round as he closed with a 74 to finish tied 11th, his second top-15 finish of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR Season after coming in T14 at the Safeway Open two weeks ago.

Kim Joohyung (72) was T-33 and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69) ended T-70 alongside Atwal.

Nate Lashley (69) was fourth and overnight leader, Adam Long (75) fell to fifth. Lahiri tied for sixth with James Hahn (69).

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Published on September 28, 2020
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