Lahiri gets dramatic last-minute spot, Bhullar hopeful of good showing at CIMB
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 10 (PTI) Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri hopes to make the most of a last-minute dash to Kuala Lumpur to participate in the USD 7 million CIMB Classic, where he has enjoyed good results in the past.
The 31-year-old from Bengaluru finished tied third at the TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2015, which matches the best result by an Asian player in the only PGA Tour event in southeast Asia.
He also won the Malaysian Open on the same golf course in 2015, his first win on the European Tour.
Lahiri is part of a quartet of Indian golfers in the field, making it the first time that so many players from the country have featured in a PGA Tour event. The field includes Gaganjeet Bhullar, apart from Shubhankar Sharma and Rahil Gangjee. Fiji International champion Bhullar has been in good form and he decided to take a week's break before the CIMB Classic.
Lahiri making it to CIMB was rather dramatic. It was a close call and Lahiri almost did not make it. Ranked 99th on the FedEx Cup last season, he presumed he'd get an entry in the field, but discovered last Friday that he was the first alternate after entries officially closed.
He was on the verge of taking a flight to his US base in Florida from San Francisco when he received the news that Andrew Landry withdrew and he was finally in.
"I'm quite relieved actually. I made my plans in the off-season assuming that I would play, so it came as a bit of a surprise. I thought I'd be comfortably in because in the previous years, it had gone down way past 100th in the FedEx Cup standing," said the world No 119.
"I was still the first reserve on Sunday and I had a 0030 Cathay flight on Monday to fly to KL and also a 2330 redeye to Florida from San Francisco because if I wasn't getting in, I was just going to go back to Florida."
Lahiri said he was extremely eager to play this week and that was not only because of his record at the TPC Kuala Lumpur, where he shot a 62 to win the Malaysian Open and a 64 in the CIMB Classic.
"I worked very hard after the Playoffs. I went to Napa (for Safeway Open) and I was still in my practice mode, a little rusty, Lahiri added.
"Then on Friday afternoon I actually started playing a little better on the back nine and I felt more comfortable. I felt like the rust was coming off and I was ready to play well here in KL. I know what to do, I know the golf course, the weather, how far the ball's going to go, the pin positions etc.
"Then I'm like, oh, maybe I'm not going to play. I have plans for the next couple of weeks where I'm not playing any golf, so it would have ended up like a month of no golf."
Gaganjeet Bhullar was delighted that four Indians were in the field and said the number is only going to increase in the future.
"Well, this year all four of us have been playing really well. This is for the first time four of us are playing here," he added.
"I think it's a great sign of improvement of Indian golf and I think the next generation will definitely get pumped up, they'll definitely work hard and hopefully in the future the number increases