Anirban Lahiri of India has the Masters Tournament in sight after moving to 37th position on the Official World Golf Ranking, his career’s best, following his stunning win at the Maybank Malaysian Open on Sunday.
The 27-year-old, who finished second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and was voted as the 2014 Players’ Player of the year, is in prime position to qualify for the year’s first Major tournament in April and also the International Team for the Presidents Cup in Korea in October.
Lahiri fired a superb 14-under-par in the weekend to claim his third win in 10 months, adding to his previous three Asian Tour titles but his first on the European Tour.
He is also the third straight Asian Tour member to win in the co-sanction 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.
“I’ll have a long chat with my manager to try to figure out how best to schedule the coming months. Now playing in the Masters is a realistic goal, so that’s definitely one of the things I’ll consider. There’ll be a lot of thinking, but I will 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 for this win 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,” he added.
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. The Indian was disappointed to sit out in those events but he will not face the same problems again after earning a winner’s category in Europe.
“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 explained.
“I think that put the fire in me and I just 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 hind sight it sounds very nice, but that’s how it turned out and I’m very happy,” he smiled.
Lahiri’s win in the season-opening Asian Tour event was worth US$500,000 and gave him an early lead on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Paul Peterson of the United States and Richard T. Lee of Canada, the 2013 Rookie of the Year, share second place with earnings of US$99,300 after finishing tied fifth at the Maybank Malaysian Open. S.S.P. Chawrasia is placed fourth on US$60,000.
Australians Wade Ormsby and Nathan Holman (US$51,700) share fifth position on the Merit list while Scott Hend, a six-time Asian Tour winner, and Korea’s Wang Jeung-hun, who did not miss a single cut last season, are in joint seventh place on US$45,000.
The Asian Tour will travel to the US$2 million True Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain, which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour. The inaugural event starts on Thursday.
Asian Tour’s Order of Merit – Top-20
Player Order of Merit (US$)
- Anirban LAHIRI (IND) $500,000
- Richard T. LEE (CAN) $99,300
- Paul PETERSON (USA) $99,300
- S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) $60,000
- Wade ORMSBY (AUS) $51,700
- Nathan HOLMAN (AUS) $51,700
- WANG Jeung-hun (KOR) $45,000
- Scott HEND (AUS) $45,000
- Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) $33,960
- Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) $33,960
- Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) $33,960
- Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $28,950
- Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) $28,950
- Marcus FRASER (AUS) $28,950
- Danny CHIA (MAS) $28,950
- LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) $24,450
- Andrew DODT (AUS) $21,000
- Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) $21,000
- Rashid KHAN (IND) $21,000
- KANG Sung-hoon (KOR) $18,000
- Carlos PIGEM (ESP) $18,000
- David LIPSKY (USA) $18,000