Last week, at the end of the first round in the Kings Cup in Thailand on the Asian tour, Indian golfer Anirbhan Lahiri was lying tied eighth with eight other golfers. The remaining three days saw Lahiri hitting 13 birdies in three rounds and finishing tied third, a result which not only handed him $ 51,333 but also a third spot in the Asian Tour Order of Merit and a place in the Asian team for the Euro-Asia trophy to be played in Malaysia in March.
The third place finish not only made Lahiri surpass compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar, who opted to play in Abu Dhabi Golf Championships, in the merit but also handed him a career best world ranking of 101 making the highest placed current Indian golfer in the world rankings.
In a sport, where rankings can change with one big win on the three tours, Lahiri’s rise during the last three years has been phenomenal. From winning his first tournament in the PGTI Tour in 2009 in the form of Haryana Open, the Bengaluru golfer had won three times on the Asian tour apart from climbing the world rankings from 431 at the start of 2011 to current ranking of 101 with the next best Indian golfer in the form of Gaganjeet Bhullar at 141.
Last year saw the 26-year-old golfer winning one title in the Asian Tour in the form of SAIL SBI Open apart from three second place finishes and four top-ten finishes in the Asian Tour. And one of the major factors in Lahiri’s golden run has been his ability to hit birdies. The Kings Cup saw Lahiri hitting 18 birdies in four rounds.
Lahiri finished the Asian Tour season as the leader in hitting birdies this season in Asian Tour with 37 birdies with even Asian tour Order of Merit leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat hitting 10 birdies. Eight of these birdies came on a single day in the final round in Macau Open early this year where he carded a final day score of nine-under 62 to finish second behind Australian Scott Hend.
One of the reasons which Lahiri attributes to hitting birdies is a change of putter. Lahiri changed his putter after four seasons early this year and the shorter putter has seen him returning with four sub-65 scores in a single round this season.
A meditation practitioner, Lahiri played the most number of rounds in the Asian tour last season with a stroke average of 70.32 only behind Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand.
With Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa struggling with their form, Lahiri along with Bhullar can stake his claim for the golf event to be played in the new course to be built at in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Before that, Lahiri who finished tied 31st in the British Open last year will have to stake his claim for the European Tour. While the likes of Jeev, Bhullar and Shiv Kapur have their cards for the European tour, Lahiri will have to chalk out a plan for earning a card for European tour if he wants to break in the top 50.
It can be through taking part in the five European Tour co sanctioned events or playing in the European Tour Qualifying School.
A break in the top 50 will also means that he will automatically qualify for the all the Majors and a win on the European Tour will earn him an exemption card for three years.