Golfer Lahiri puts one hand on Asian Tour Merit trophy

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 1 (IANS) Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is putting the champagne on ice as he took a big step towards wrapping up the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown following the conclusion of the $7 million CIMB Classic on Sunday.

With his closest rivals Scott Hend and Andrew Dodt, both from Australia, finishing below him at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, the 28-year-old extended his lead over second-ranked Hend to $647,453, following his tied 21st finish here.

“We’ll see. Funnier things have happened. I’m obviously really thrilled with the way I’ve played all year. I played pretty consistently,” said Lahiri, who earned another $78,400 following a closing two-under-par 70 for a 14-under-par 274 aggregate.

“So, hopefully, if things do go my way, it will be fantastic to win the Order of Merit. It’s been something that I wanted to do, it’s been something that has eluded me. When the time comes, if that does happen, it will be a very special moment for me,” added Lahiri, who has amassed $1.13 million on the Asian Tour this season.

Hend conceded Lahiri has done enough to become the new Asian Tour No.1. With six events remaining, either Hend or Dodt would need to win almost all remaining tournaments to have a chance of surpassing the Indian.

The 42-year-old Hend said he needed a top-two finish in Malaysia to keep the Merit battle alive but settled for a share of 27th position after closing with a 67. Dodt finished tied 56th to remain third on the Merit list.

“It’s over, finished. I pretty much had to win this week otherwise Anirban is going to have it wrapped up. He’s played fantastic golf obviously at the start of the year and deserves it,” said Hend, winner of the Macao Open two weeks ago.

Lahiri, who played in his first Presidents Cup three weeks ago and is now ranked 37th in the world, was disappointed he didn’t put a better showing at the West course where he had won the Malaysian Open earlier this season.

“I didn’t get any momentum. Having said that, it’s not a bad week. It’s a decent week, but definitely not what I had hoped for. I didn’t hit my irons very good this week, that has been my strength over the last few weeks but this week my iron play wasn’t very good,” said Lahiri.

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