For the second day in succession, Anirban Lahiri produced a brilliant comeback in the closing stages of the President’s Cup and rallied from the brink to snatch half a point in his singles match against World No. 24 Kevin Kisner on the final day here.
The Indian is 46 places below the American at 68th and Kisner recently finished tied-3rd at the PGA Tour Championships. Lahiri, who came pointless to this edition of the Presidents Cup and stayed that way even after his fourballs match, won 1.5 points out of two over the weekend.
In the process, Lahiri earned everyone’s respect, including that of three-time Major champion Jordan Spieth, who came up to him on the 18th and congratulated him on his great fightback over the weekend.
The Indian also earned a new nickname from close friend, Emiliano Grillo, who put a makeshift placard in front his name before the official Press Conference began and called the Indian, ‘Anirban “Big Balls” Lahiri’ raising laughs and applause.
The Internationals won six singles, halved three and lost just three out of the 12 to win the final session 7.5 – 4.5 on Sunday. The fighting Internationals’ outfit also felled three Major champions.
Among the US stars losing their singles were Major champions Spieth (to Jhonattan Vegas), Justin Thomas to (Hideki Matsuyama) and Brooks Koepka (to Adam Scott). Lahiri, while speaking about the final day and his own performance, said, “In the morning, vice-captain Tony Johnstone mentioned to me that our heaviest loss was when we scored 10.5 points. I looked up at the scoreboard after the 16th, and we were on 10.5. I just wanted to make sure we finished on more than that.
“I was disappointed I could not get the full point I played poorly in the middle part of the round, made a lot of unforced errors and bad club. I lost my concentration and then I just tried to fight as hard as I could. But the way the team fought back today after the first four sessions was magnificent and very pleasing.”
“It has been a good Sunday, but it was disastrous otherwise. We have learned a lot and I am sure we will regroup before Melbourne in 2019,” he added. After beginning the day 3.5 to 14.5, the Internationals made the final score a respectable 11-19. This was the seventh successive Presidents Cup win for the US, who have now won the Cup 10 times in 12 editions, losing just once and the event was Tied once.
The event will return in 2019 to the Royal Melbourne, the venue where Internationals achieved their lone triumph in 1998. “I think on a personal level, I’ve done well and truly buried the demons from South Korea. For me, it’s really special to be a part of this team. I’m just glad that I was able to step up on the weekend to kind of repay Nick’s (Nick Price) faith in me.
“There was a lot of flak given to him and me coming into this event for that, but I’m happy that I managed to step up and perform,” said Lahiri. Asked about his new nickname given to him by the Argentine Grillo, Lahiri laughed and said, “That’s Grillo at work. Have become great friends and come closer after being named on the team as captain’s picks and even went to see the US Open tennis matches together.”
Lahiri’s gutsy performance spanned over the weekend. On Sunday after being 2-up after five he was 2-down with two holes to play and needing to win both 17th and 18th. He first holed a tense 12-footer to win the 17th and then for the second day running, he excelled on the 18th with a perfect tee shot and won the hole.
Kisner went off the green and ended with a bogey and conceded the hole as Lahiri needed two putts from 10 feet to win the hole. In the fourballs on Saturday, while partnering Korea’s Si Woo Kim, the Indian ace first holed a massive 16 footer to get the lead on 16th and then drained a 19-footer as a reply to American Charley Hoffman’s chip-in from 65 feet to keep the lead intact.
Then on 18th, he parred to halve the hole even as Si Woo went bunker to bunker. That Saturday win also gave him his first points in Presidents Cup.