Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri takes four stroke lead in the CIMB Classic tournament
Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri was handed a four-stroke lead going into the final round of the CIMB Classic on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Justin Thomas, who was the overnight leader, surprisingly dropped four shots over a three-hole span as Lahiri surged forward.
Thomas, the defending champion, had seized the lead in the first two round after a flawless performance but faltered during Saturday’s back nine. The 23-year-old American hit a bad patch with two bogeys and a double bogey.
The stretch might have already decided the tournament’s outcome, as Thomas will need to be razor sharp if he hopes to defend his sole PGA Tour title. However, with Lahiri giving his best performance of the week on Saturday, the American will have his task cut out.
Lahiri hit nine birdies for a seven-under-par 65 with four birdies in the final five holes of the round. While Thomas somehow salvaged a 71 at the par-72, the Indian went 19-under overall to lead by four shots.
As reported in the Times of India (TOI), Lahiri said that his love affair with Malaysia, where he had won the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2015, and the incredible support helped him perform well. “I'd like to think it's a home crowd. I've had quite a love affair with Malaysia, whether it's the Malaysian Open or the two EurAsia Cups where we've had tremendous support and there's a lot of Indians in KL and Malaysia.”
Thomas looked to revive his lead as he ended with five consecutive birdies but was left to rue what he branded as “terrible golf”, “It was great to have that finish. I gave myself a chance, and I know I wouldn't have done that in some of the years past. I feel like that showed a lot of me and I hope that I can ride the momentum into tomorrow."
Russell Knox of Scotland was tied with Thomas at under-15, while Americans Derek Fathauer and James Hahn, along with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama were tied at under-14 at the end of the day’s play.
Jointly sanctioned by the PGA Tour and the Asian Tour, the $7 million tournament presents the winner an amount of $1.26 million. The second tour of the 2017 PGA Tour schedule gives 500 points towards the FedEX Cup to the winner and also offers an invite to the winner-only Tournament of Champions 2017.