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Season's Best Finish at Barbasol Boosts Anirban Lahiri's Confidence ahead of Olympics

Anirban Lahiri will be taking part in Tokyo Olympics (AFP Photo)

Anirban Lahiri will be taking part in Tokyo Olympics (AFP Photo)

Anirban Lahiri will be taking part in Tokyo Olympics and said he is excited and proud to wear the Indian tricolour.

A storming finish of four birdies in his last five holes not only gave India’s Anirban Lahiri his best result of the year on the PGA Tour, it also secured him his playing privilege for 2021-22 season and boosted his confidence ahead of the Olympics.

The 34-year-old from Bengaluru, the only Indian with playing rights on the PGA Tour in the US, the best golf Tour in the world, shot a superb seven-under par 65 round on the final day at the Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky. That helped him finish on 20-under par total, tied for the third place alongside American Sam Ryder and just one behind the joint leaders JT Poston of the US and Seamus Power of Ireland.

Poston secured the win on the sixth play-off hole, but Lahiri managed to walk away with his head held high as well after matching his best final-round score in his five full seasons on the PGA Tour. He previously shot a seven-under par 65 in the first week of June in 2017 at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Golf Tournament.

The Indian ace made the difficult decision to go to Tokyo this year and represent India despite the fact that he was outside the top-125 in the FedEx Cup list, which guarantees a card for next season. With his finish, Lahiri has now moved to 108th place on 445.514 points, which is enough to keep him inside the top-125.

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A delighted Lahiri said about his rousing finish: “That was something that I really needed and something that I think I deserved. I think all week I’ve played a little better than the scores I’ve shot. I had the opportunity to shoot 7-, 8- or 9-under every day and instead of building up on the momentum, I went backwards. So, I’m really happy with how I played today.

“To finish like that was really important just with my rankings on the FedEx. I’m not playing next week as I am off to Tokyo, so I wanted to make sure that I get the most out of this week. I’ve done whatever I could under the circumstances."

His form ahead of Tokyo – he leaves from the US on Friday and reaches Narita on Saturday – was pleasing for Lahiri.

“I made a lot of birdies this week and that is something that you definitely need to do to win golf tournaments. I don’t know anything about the golf course in Japan, but I will obviously have to shoot really low numbers there and I need this mentality," said Lahiri.

“I’m really excited. It’s exciting to be wearing the Tricolor. It’s always a really, really special thing to represent India. Every opportunity that I get, I’m going to grab it with both hands, and hopefully I can go with this form to Tokyo and do some damage."

“To do well in the Olympics would mean everything. I think it would change the way golf is perceived in India. I think it would change the kind of support we get from corporates and the government. I think it will make the kids want to play more. It would have similar impact to winning a major even.

“I think more people in India would watch an Olympic event than a regular PGA Tour event. That’s a great opportunity for me to give back to the game and bring some glory to the country."

Lahiri would be joined by Udayan Mane as the Indian team for the men’s golf in Tokyo, while Aditi Ashok, coincidentally also from Bengaluru and also coming off a tied third place finish in the LPGA Tour on Saturday, is the lone representative in women’s golf.

The men’s event will be held at the Kasumigaseki Country Club from July 28-31, while the four-day women’s competition starts August 3.

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first published:July 19, 2021, 07:58 IST