28-year-old has best-ever outing in a Major, surpasses countryman Jeev Milkha Singh’s tied ninth finish at the 2008 PGA Championship.
‘I won't really say I was in contention here because I was a long way out but I was in the mix’
‘It tells me that I can compete with the best on the toughest courses’
Asian Tour star Anirban Lahiri wrote a small slice of Indian sporting history with an eye-catching equal fifth place finish at the PGA Championship on Sunday and reinforced his growing reputation in world golf.
The 28-year-old fired a closing four-under-par 68 for a 13-under-par 275 aggregate to enjoy his best-ever outing in a Major and surpassed countryman Jeev Milkha Singh’s tied ninth finish at the 2008 PGA Championship.
With his superb showing at Whistling Straits, Lahiri, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, jumped from 53rd to 38th place on the latest Official World Golf Rankings.
That move on the world rankings should also lock in his place with the International Team set to face the United States at the Presidents Cup in Korea in October.
“It’s been a fantastic week,” said Lahiri, who signed for earlier cards of 70, 67 and 70 and finished seven shots behind winner Jason Day of Australia.
“I won’t really say I was in contention here because I was a long way out but I was in the mix. It’s a great feeling, it’s massive for me. It gives me so much confidence. It also tells me that I can compete with the best on the toughest courses and the best fields. It also tells me that I need to get just a little bit better and maybe I’ll be back here more often.”
A seven-time winner on the Asian Tour, Lahiri said his career-best finish in a Major will push him forward towards his ultimate goal of becoming a Major champion one day.
“This is more a pressure reliever than anything else, pressure from myself because I know I’m good enough to compete out here. But I’ve not seen anything that would suggest that and this week kind of puts that to rest. I can come out here and play more freely, not having to prove anything to myself,” said Lahiri, who has won four times in the past 18 months.
The winner of the long drive competition on Tuesday, Lahiri brilliantly turned in 32 with four birdies during the final round before a three-putt bogey on 10 knocked him off his stride. He fought back with two birdies but dropped a bogey at the last from the greenside bunker.
“I putted a lot better. But it's obviously the scoring aspect that I feel is lacking a little bit. I think that's where I need to tighten it up, just around the greens and make a few more 10 and 12-footers,” said Lahiri, who played alongside Matt Kuchar who also shot a closing 68 to finish one spot behind him.
“I was really in a good zone. I was playing well, I was hitting it good. I think the three-putt on 10 from five or six feet, I think that was like a kick in the stomach for me. It just knocked the wind out of me.
“Then I did really well to gather myself from a difficult position. But again, it was kind of disappointed to finish in the end. I think a couple of shots better would have got my card on the PGA Tour. So a little bummed about that.”
Ultimately, Lahiri feels he can now stand shoulder to shoulder with golf’s current crop of top stars, where the top-three ranked players – Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Day – are all in their 20s.
“I didn't really feel out of place. I think that's a massive positive for me. I felt really comfortable whoever I was playing with and whenever I was playing and whatever I was doing, I felt very much at home. I think that's a good sign,” he said.