The 26-year-old Lahiri claimed a stunning victory at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters on Sunday after producing a superb eagle on the 72nd which raised his season’s earnings to US$192,150.
Although it is early days yet, getting to the top of the Merit list was satisfying for Lahiri, whose world ranking also rose to a career high 67th place after he collected 20 points for his fourth Asian Tour success, and first outside of India.
It ultimately proved that good things do come for those who are patient and hardworking and the timing of it all was perfect as Lahiri will get married next month.
Since joining the Asian Tour in 2008, the talented Indian has enjoyed a meteoric rise where he won three titles on home soil before his Indonesian triumph. Lahiri knew it was only a matter of time before he won a tournament abroad and when it did, he achieved it in emphatic fashion.
After holing a sensational eagle putt in fading light at Royale Jakarta Golf Club to pip Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea and Australia’s Cameron Smith by one shot, an excited Lahiri clenched his fists and celebrated wildly with his caddy and playing partner Rashid Khan of India.
The emotions and determination etched on Lahiri’s face showed the coming of age of one of Asia’s most promising players.
“It feels great to be top on the Asian Tour Order of Merit right now. One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to contend for the Order of Merit. I am glad I got off to a good start. I just have to keep focusing on playing good golf and keep getting better as the year progresses,” said Lahiri.
“I needed the world ranking points so I am really happy I won. I think I played much better than my score. I hit the ball well all week. I played really solid and this victory means a lot to me,” he added.
Lahiri’s rise has been a result of true grit, hard work and a high dose of self-confidence. He contributed immensely for Team Asia in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia in the memorable draw with Europe where he contributed two points.
His ability to produce clutch putts was evident in the second day’s foursomes where he holed a vital seven-foot par putt on the last green as he and partner Siddikur Rahman won one-up against Joost Luiten and Victor Dubuisson in the last match out on the course.
The hard-fought point kept Asia within four of Europe at that stage, but more importantly, it gave Asia the momentum going into the final day singles session which subsequently witnessed the amazing fightback.
Two weeks after the Ryder Cup style event, Lahiri was again in the spotlight when he finished equal 10th at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
“The EurAsia Cup was a very special event for me. I am happy to see my game go up another level after the EurAsia Cup. It was a huge confidence booster,” he said.
Outside the ropes, Lahiri’s personal life is also on the upswing as he prepares for his marriage next month to long-time girlfriend Ipsa Jamwal.
“Yes I am getting married and I am very happy about what’s happening in my personal life. I would still be very happy and excited about my marriage if I did not win this week. Obviously now that I have won, it’s like the icing on the cake!” Lahiri smiled.
Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, who missed the halfway cut at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, dropped one spot to second on the Order of Merit with earnings of US$119,450 while Richard T. Lee of Canada, winner of the Solaire Open in the Philippines, was third on US$88,808.
India’s Khan, who won the season-opening SAIL-SBI Open at home, was fourth with US$75,687 after finishing a creditable ninth in Indonesia.
Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun agonisingly missed out on his first Asian Tour victory after finishing tied second behind Lahiri but the result moved him up to fifth place on the Order of Merit with US$68,359.
Rookie Cameron Smith’s joint second outing in Indonesia moved the Aussie up to sixth position with US$64,875, which should be enough to secure his card for next season.
The Asian Tour travels to The Championship in Singapore this week. The US$1.5 million event, joint-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, will be played at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club starting on Thursday.
Asian Tour Order of Merit – Top-20
Pos Player Earnings (US$)
1. Anirban LAHIRI (IND) $192,150
2. Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) $119,450
3. Richard T. LEE (CAN) $88,808
4. Rashid KHAN (IND) $75,687
5. BAEK Seuk-hyun(KOR) $68,359
6. Cameron SMITH (AUS) $64,875
7. S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND) $58,695
8. Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) $54,111
9. Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) $51,643
10. Carlos PIGEM (ESP) $50,530
11. Jason KNUTZON (USA) $45,710
12. Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) $45,091
13. Steve LEWTON (ENG) $42,655
14. Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) $42,100
15. Jbe KRUGER (RSA) $40,535
16. Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) $37,949
17. Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) $37,500
18. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) $32,755
19. Scott HEND (AUS) $32,633
19. Wade ORMSBY (AUS) $32,633