Lahiri lands biggest career title
India golfer Anirban Lahiri claimed the biggest victory of his burgeoning career with a gripping one-stroke victory over Austrian Bernd Wiesberger in the $3 million Malaysian Open on Sunday. The 27-year-old Lahiri, who trailed by five strokes heading into the fourth and final round, closed with a four-under-par 68 to lift the Seagram trophy and win the $500,000 cheque.
His sixth Asian Tour win and first co-sanctioned title on the European Tour is likely to propel him into the world’s top-40, putting him in prime position to qualify for the Masters Tournament in April, the year’s first Major, and also the International Team for the Presidents Cup later this year.
Coming off his career’s best year where he won twice and finished second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Lahiri fought gallantly to reel in overnight leader Wiesberger and then holed an audacious 50-foot birdie putt from off the 17th green which ultimately proved decisive. Wiesberger, with three top-6 finishes in his last three starts, started strongly with two opening birdies but a double bogey on five stopped his momentum and further bogeys on 12, 15 and 17 meant that he needed to birdie the last to force a play-off with Lahiri, who finished on 16-under-par 272. However, the 29-year-old Austrian, who was seeking a fourth career victory, left his birdie attempt from 25 feet well short of the hole.
“This is very special. This is the sixth time I’ve won and it is my first on the European Tour; that’s what makes it more special. The other thing that sets this win apart is that I finally won a big event. The first three events were $300,000 events in India. They gave me a lot confidence. Without those wins, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wanted to win an event which is big, not just in prize money but in terms of the field. I played with Lee Westwood and unfortunately he had a bad day. You are playing in the field with Major winners and you beat them. That is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he said.
Lahiri also became the fourth Indian to win a European Tour event following wins from Jeev Milkha Singh, SSP Chawrasia and Atwal.
“I’d completely misread the line on 15 and my caddie advised me of the right line. Then on 16 I was pretty certain what the line was and he advised me of a different line, and it turned out I was right that time! So when I got to the 17th I said ‘believe in what you see, believe you can make this putt and just hit it’. I wasn’t thinking of lagging it or holing it, I just told myself as I walked up to it to believe that I can make it. And it went in,” said Lahiri.
272 Anirban Lahiri (IND)
273 Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)
275 Paul Waring (ENG), Alejandro Canizares (ESP)
277 Gregory Bourdy (FRA), Richard Lee (CAN), Paul Peterson (USA), Lee Westwood (ENG)
278 Marc Warren (SCO)
279 SSP Chawrasia (IND)
280 Nathan Holman (AUS), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Richard Bland (ENG)
281 Scott Hend (AUStralia), Wang Jeung-hun (KOREA)
282 Robert Rock (ENG), Thomas Pieters (BEL), Peter Lawrie (IRL), Peter Uihlein (USA)
283 Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA), Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Alvaro Quiros (ESP)