Lahiri loses as US pips Internationals to retain Presidents Cup

Incheon (South Korea), Oct 11 (IANS) Leading Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri lost his singles match against Chris Kirk as the International Team lost to the United States by one point on the fourth and final day of the 11th Presidents Cup here on Sunday.

The current Asian Tour number one agonisingly lipped out a birdie putt from three feet on the 18th hole which would have earned his International Team a half point with Kirk on a dramatic final day singles session which saw the US claim a nerve-jangling 15.5 to 14.5 victory at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.

The biennial team match-play contest, held in Asia for the first time, went down the wire in front of large galleries with Bill Haas notching a thrilling 2-up victory which gave the US one-point win, which was its ninth in the series and sixth consecutive success.

“These things are scripted I guess, and I wasn’t in the script this time,” Lahiri said in an Asian Tour release after his 1-up defeat.

“On 18, I guess it wasn’t meant to be, unfortunately. I was pretty sure what the line was and I made a good stroke. But I did what I’ve done all week, misread putts. It looked like right in to me. That’s why I hit it. It went left to right and caught a big part of the lip and spat it out.”

World No.39 Lahiri was 2-down through 11 but fought back to draw level by winning the 12th and 14th holes. The match went up to the par five 18th hole and Lahiri seemed to have the upperhand by getting close for birdie while Kirk left himself with a tricky 15-footer.

The world No.27 American however produced an exquisite stroke for a well deserved four which turned the pressure on Lahiri, who subsequently missed. American Bubba Watson, who also missed a similar length putt on the last green to halve his match with Thongchai Jaidee, immediately went up to the Indian to offer his support.

It was indeed a day of high drama which saw some stunning matches leaving the outcome of the Presidents Cup on tenterhooks.

The Internationals secured some big wins, with Marc Leishman edging world No.1 Jordan Spieth 1-up, Adam Scott trouncing Rickie Fowler six and five and Hideki Matsuyama beating J.B. Holmes 1-up with a birdie on 18.

Branden Grace emerged as the star for the Internationals with a two and one win over Matt Kuchar giving him a perfect five wins this week. But with the Americans gaining wins through Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Chris Kirk and Zach Johnson and with half points from Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson, it all came down to the last tie between Haas, captain Jay’ son, and Bae.

The local hero produced some gutsy shots, including par save on 16 from eight feet and a wonderful bunker shot on 17 to stay one-down. Needing to win the last hole, it ended in disappointment for the Korean star as he fluffed his third shot to allow Haas to win the hole and match 2-up.

International Captain paid tribute to his 12 men, especially Bae and Lahiri.

Lahiri ended his Presidents Cup campaign, where was the first Indian to feature with the biennial team event, with three losses but vowed to fight his way back into the International Team in two years’ time.

“I haven’t had any momentum all week really. Today was similar. I didn’t play too badly. But just didn’t get anything going. I knew that the half point was equally important. The full point would’ve been I guess game changing, but the half point would’ve also given us a little more of a chance,” he said.

“This is certainly not how I would’ve wanted to have my first Presidents Cup play out. I do feel terrible right now. It’s going to be hard for me to sleep tonight, I think,” the 28-year-old rued.

“I would like to rewind and just change the last 10 seconds of it. I think it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully I get a chance to redeem myself in years to come.”

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