Lahiri wins Indonesian Masters with a final hole eagle
Jakarta: Keeping his emotions and nerves in check, Anirban Lahiri holed a sensational 20-foot eagle putt on the very last hole on the final day to grab his fourth Asian Tour title and the first outside India at the CIMB Indonesian Masters here on Monday.
It also brought Lahiri an early wedding gift, as he is getting married next month.
Lahiri, who started the day in second place and began well by firing three successive birdies starting from the second hole.
He seemed to have been affected by a break prompted because of a three-hour rain stoppage, as he double bogeyed 13th when play resumed.
But the Indian fought back wonderfully to birdie the 14th and finally leapfrogged from second to the top and past the clubhouse leader Baek Seuk-Hyun of Korea (65) with that stunning eagle on the last hole.
Lahiri (68) finished at 17-under after rounds of 70, 69, 64 and 68 and was one shot clear of Baek (65) and Cameron Smith (70).
"I had an awkward lie on 13. During the rain delay I was just thinking that I have to get up and down there. I got a bad break there but I knew Lin Wen-tang dropped a shot as well. Unfortunately I got a double bogey there but I am glad I came back strong," said Lahiri.
With Baek holding the clubhouse lead at 16-under, Lahiri knew he had to produce a superlative effort on 18th to get the outright win and he needed at least a birdie to get into the play-off.
On his final step, Lahiri said, "My mind was blank when I prepared for the last putt on 18. All I told myself was I had to get it into the hole. When I was walking up to the greens, I was actually thinking if I need to prepare for a playoff tomorrow morning."
Lahiri let out a scream of relief as the ball settled inside the cup.
"It`s really great to get my first win outside of India. I have missed out on it for a long time and I am so glad I managed to do it today. I need the world ranking points so I am really happy I can win this week," said Lahiri.
Making it a great outing for Indian golf were SSP Chowrasia (68), who for a brief while was in contention, before ending tied fifth at 14-under and Rashid Khan (71), who had a topsy-turvy day with five birdies and four bogeys and tied ninth place at 13-under. Khan had won his maiden Asian Tour title last month at SAIL-SBI Open.
Jyoti Randhawa (70) was also looking at a long shot as he found five birdies in a space of six holes between fifth and 10th, but then three bogeys between 11th and 14th ended his hopes and he finished in a tie for 13th.
Rahil Gangjee (70) was tied 22nd and Arjun Atwal, who had one eagle on 18th and a birdie on sixth, ended tied 39th.
Lahiri, ranked 102nd in World rankings at the start of the week, should move inside top-75 when the rankings are released tomorrow. He is currently the top Indian in World rankings. He will also move to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
It was Lahiri's fourth win and he has now won each year since 2011 and the only Indians with more Asian Tour wins than him are Jyoti Randhawa (8), Arjun Atwal (7), Jeev Milkha Singh (6) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (5).
It has been a series of consistent and fine performances from Lahiri, who was tied eighth at SAIL-SBI Open and then tied 10th at Maybank Malaysian Open. He also won two points for Team Asia last month at the inaugural EurAsia Cup, including a singles win over World top-30 player Victor
Dubuisson of France.
Arwin Rasyid, President Director of CIMB Niaga, said, "On behalf of CIMB Niaga and all the other sponsors and partners of the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters 2014, I would like to give my heartfelt congratulations to Anirban Lahiri. He played very well and was amazing to watch.
"This year's event has been another huge success and we are very happy to conclude on such a high note. We look forward to being a part of the future editions of the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters and bringing you the best of golf right here at Royale Jakarta Golf Club. See you all next year!"
Starting the day at second place, Lahiri moved into the lead with three birdies in a row from second to fourth and despite a bogey on fifth, he sank another birdie on 12th to stay in lead. But Baek, who started the day with five birdies in a row and Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei, who hit seven birdies in first 11 holes, looked like pulling the rug from under Lahiri's feet.
Then just as Lin dropped out of contention with two bogeys and a double between 14th and 17th,
Lahiri's playing partner and overnight leader rookie Cameron Smith from Australia fought his way back from a disastrous front nine of three-over 39 with four birdies between 11th and 16th. He joined Lahiri at 15-under in second place as Baek went to the putting green to get ready for a play-off after closing at 16-under.
Both Smith and Lahiri were on the green in two and had long eagle putts. Smith missed his putt and got a birdie, while Lahiri found the cup from 20 feet to leave Baek and Smith stranded at 16-under as the Indian jumped ahead to 17-under.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (68) was fourth, while veteran Thongchai Jaidee (64) had nine birdies against one bogey to tie for fifth with Chowrasia (68), Jazz Janewattananond (67) and Lin Wen-tang (68) at 14-under.
Baek, who played with an elbow problem, was low on confidence before the start of the tournament.
"I actually thought of withdrawing just before the start of the first round this week. On the first day,
I told my caddy if I can par the first hole, I would continue to play. I managed to do that and I moved on with my game.
"On the second day, I thought I should just try and make the cut. I have no confidence at all. Until today, I didn't expect myself to do so well. My elbow got better so I just try and focus on my game. I didn't look at the leaderboard because I don't want to give myself any pressure," said Baek.