Anirban Lahiri, who retained his PGA Tour card, will begin his new wraparound PGA Tour season when he tees off at the USD 7 million CIMB Classic, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour at TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Other Indians in the field are SSP Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar, both of whom have won once each this season. While Chawrasia won the Hero Indian Open and Bhullar clinched the Shinhan Donghae Open title in Korea last month.
When Lahiri was asked how far he was from a PGA Tour title, the 29-year-old replied, “Hopefully four days”.
“Obviously winning a tournament is on my mind. I feel I’m in a place where I’m comfortable on the Tour, I know the quality and I know the level, I know the level I need to play at to win and I know I can. That is obviously the overall goal, to win, to get back into the world’s top-50, get back into the Majors and World Golf Championships.”
Currently ranked 83rd in the world after ending last season in 40th position, Lahiri hopes a quick swing fix will set him on the path to a maiden PGA Tour victory.
The venue — TPC KL — is also where Lahiri had won the Malaysian Open in early 2015 last season, which helped him win a first Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown.
“It’s always nice to come back. Obviously I’ve had some success in the past and being the beginning of the 2017 season on the PGA Tour, it’s nice to start that off at a familiar hunting ground,” said Lahiri.
Buoyed by a stunning seven-birdie finish in Macao on Sunday before losing the play-off, Lahiri has brought his coach Vijay Divecha along here.
Talking of his show at the Venetian Macao Open, Lahiri said: “It’s a huge positive. Mentally, it was fantastic. However, I don’t think I was swinging my best in Macao. It’s good I have my coach here. We have worked on a few things that I felt was letting me down. It’s nice to finally start playing well again. I still can’t say I’m swinging my best. Hopefully the work I have put in with my coach will help.”
A seven-time Asian Tour winner, Lahiri gave winner Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand a run for his money clawing from five shots back in the final round to force a play-off which he subsequently lost. It was only his second tournament back following a five-week injury lay-off.
“I think I’m building into some form. I’m beginning to warm up and getting back to full competitive levels. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. Whether I can maintain it for 72 holes, that will be the difference between winning and not winning.”
American Justin Thomas will defend his title at the CIMB Classic, where other stars include Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, Australian Adam Scott and Spaniard Sergio Garcia.