Kuala Lumpur: Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri hopes a quick swing fix will set him on the path to a maiden PGA Tour victory when he competes in the CIMB Classic starting on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Indian tees up in the prestigious US$7 million tournament sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour at TPC Kuala Lumpur in confident mood after producing a stunning seven-birdie finish in Macao on Sunday.
A return to TPC KL also brings back happy memories as Lahiri was victorious here at the Malaysian Open last season, which helped him seal a first Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown.
“It’s always nice to come back,” said Lahiri in a press conference today. “Obviously I’ve had some success in the past and being the beginning of the 2017 season on the PGA Tour, it’s nice to start that off at a familiar hunting ground.”
Lahiri gave winner Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thaland a run for his money at the Venetian Macao Open last weekend, clawing from five shots back in the final round to force a play-off which he subsequently lost. It was his second tournament back following a five-week injury layout and the Indian liked the progress he was making.
“It’s a huge positive …. I have the belief. Mentally, it was fantastic. However, I don’t think I was swinging my best in Macao. It’s good I have my coach (Vijay Divecha) here. We’ve worked on a few things that I felt was letting me down It’s nice to finally start playing well again. I still can’t say I’m swinging my best. Hopefully the work I have put in with my coach will help,” said Lahiri, who is a seven-time Asian Tour winner.
He safely kept his card in his rookie PGA Tour season but is anxious to join countryman Arjun Atwal as a winner in the United States. When asked how far away he was from a first PGA Tour win, he responded: “Hopefully four days.”
“I think I’m building into some form, I’m beginning to warm up and getting back to full competitive levels. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. Whether I can maintain it for 72 holes, that’ll be the difference between winning and not winning.
“Obviously winning a tournament is on my mind. I feel I’m in a place where I’m comfortable on the Tour, I know the quality and I know the level, I know the level I need to play at to win and I know I can. That is obviously the overall goal, to win, to get back into the world’s top-50, get back into the Majors and World Golf Championships,” said Lahiri, who is currently ranked 83rd in the world after ending last season in 40th position.
Practising at TPC KL this week inevitably brought back wonderful memories for Lahiri, who vividly recalls his long birdie putt on the 17th green during the final day of the Malaysian Open which helped him cross the finish line ahead of the field.
“You kind of know where the pins are, you know when it’s likely to rain, you know what the winds will do. It’s good when you’re out there, you plot and plan your day better. The putt I made on 17, the year I won, that’s a special memory. There’s a lot of memories, both good and bad, mostly good, obviously when you’re out there, you know you can do it.”
American Justin Thomas will defend his title at the CIMB Classic where other stars include Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, Australian Adam Scott and Spaniard Sergio Garcia.