Girona, Spain: Anirban Lahiri continued his dream run in 2014 by earning a European Tour card for the first time in his career after finishing inside the top-25 at the European Tour Q-School Final Stage in Girona, Spain. Lahiri (65-68-66-73-75-72) carded an even-par-72 in the sixth and final round of the event on Thursday to claim tied 16th place at nine-under-419.
Mikko Korhonen of Finland won the event with a 20-under-408 total.
The top-25 and ties were slated to seal their cards for the 2015 Race to Dubai at the end of the six-day event. As three players were tied on 25th after six rounds, a total of 27 players qualified for the 2015 European Tour season.
Anirban, who was tied second till the fourth round, made the cut with a comfortable margin despite dropping five places from his overnight tied 11th position after his final round of 72. SSP Chowrasia, the only other Indian to appear at the European Tour Q-School for 2015, missed the cut at the end of round four.
The European Tour berth is the icing on the cake for Lahiri who has scaled new heights in 2014. The 27-year-old from Bangalore already has two titles under his belt on the Asian Tour this year and is currently ranked second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Anirban, who turned professional back in 2007, posted his first overseas win this year and as a result climbed to his career-high world ranking of 64.
Lahiri, along with Gaganjeet Bhullar, was also part of the Asian Team at the inaugural EurAsia Cup held in March this year. The Indian duo played a key role in helping Team Asia draw level against a star-studded European team on the final day of the event as the two teams shared the trophy.
The 2006 Asian Games silver medalist, who now has 16 professional titles to his name, was bestowed with the Arjuna Award, the country’s second-highest sporting honour, in August this year. He also played two Majors this year, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
Lahiri will now be the second Indian after Shiv Kapur to play on the European Tour as a full card member in 2015.
Shiv was the only Indian to retain his card for 2015 as he finished 87th in the Race to Dubai this year. The top-110 in the Race to Dubai get an exemption for the following season on the European Tour.
Besides Kapur, the other Indians who have had European Tour cards in the past include Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, SSP Chowrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar.