Sentosa: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri has stretched his lead in the race for the Asian Tour's Order of Merit title, taking his season's earnings to USD 925,484, following a fifth-place finish at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
The 28-year-old, who has won twice in Malaysia and India this season, picked up a cheque of USD 123,956 to be well clear of second-placed Andrew Dodt of Australia who shared the 53rd position over the weekend.
Another Indian, S.S.P. Chawrasia is third on the Merit list with USD 267,244, followed by Australian Scott Hend on USD 258,781 and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand on USD 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 golfer to be crowned as Asia's number one.
The tenacious India is also aiming to become only the third player in Asian Tour history to surpass the USD 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 four to five 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 Tour 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 Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero 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 Korea in October where he had slipped out of the automatic top-10 selection list last week.