Golfer Lahiri widens lead in Order of Merit race

Singapore, July 27 (IANS) Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri has stretched his lead in the race for the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit title to $548,348 following his fifth place finish at the European Masters in Switzerland.

The 28-year-old, who has won twice in Malaysia and India this season, picked up a cheque of $123,956 to raise his season’s tally to $925,484, well clear of second-placed Andrew Dodt of Australia, who shared 53rd position over the weekend.

Another Indian, S.S.P. Chawrasia is third on the list with $267,244 followed by Australian Scott Hend on $258,781 and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand on $232,740.

After ending the last two seasons in third and second place on the Order of Merit, Lahiri is pushing hard to become the fourth Indian to be crowned as Asia’s No.1.

The Indian is also aiming to become only the third player in Asian Tour history to surpass the $1 million earnings barrier in a single season, achieved thus far by countryman Jeev Milkha Singh and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand.

“I’m going to play in at least 4-5 events on the Asian Tour towards the end of the year. Hopefully, I can keep playing well and it’ll be nice to finally get over the line. I finished third in 2013 and second last year. So winning the Order of Merit this year would be nice,” said Lahiri.

He carded rounds 67, 67, 70 and 64 to finish five shots behind winner Danny Willet of England, who triumphed in the co-sanctioned Asian and European Tour tournament by a single shot. It was Lahiri’s first top-10 finish following his purple patch in February where he won the Malaysian Open and Indian Open in a span of three weeks.

With several big money events coming up towards the end of the year, including the CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions, Lahiri was delighted to hit top form, especially with his final round fireworks display in Switzerland.

“I’m happy to be playing well again. I had a very good start to the year and played well in the beginning but I didn’t play anywhere near my best after that. I feel like my form is coming back. It’s an important time of the year and hopefully I can keep this going,” said Lahiri, who finished tied 30th at The Open at St. Andrews.

Lahiri will recharge his batteries this week before flying out to the United States for next month’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship, which is the final Major of the season.

His top-five outing in Switzerland will push him back towards the world’s top-50 mark after slipping to 61st place last week from a high of 34th position earlier in the season. It will also enhance his hopes of qualifying for the International Team for the Presidents Cup to face the United States in South Korea in October where he had slipped out of the automatic top-10 selection list last week.

Asian Tour Order of Merit – Top-10

1. Anirban Lahiri (IND) $925,484

2. Andrew Dodt (AUS) $377,136

3. S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) $267,244

4. Scott Hend (AUS) $258,781

5. Thongchai Jaidee (THA) $232,740

6. Richard T. Lee (CAN) $213,096

7. Cameron Smith (AUS) $203,518

8. Marcus Fraser (AUS) $181,299

9. Paul Peterson (USA) $162,133

10. Prayad Marksaeng (THA) $160,800

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