NEW DELHI: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri’s incredible victory at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters catapulted him from 102 to a career-high of 67 in the Official World Golf Rankings today.
The highest ranked Indian in the world at the moment, Lahiri has also become the second-highest ranked Asian player after Thongchai Jaidee who is at 49.
Besides Jeev Milkha Singh, no other Indian golfer has been ranked higher than 67. Jeev had achieved his career-best ranking of 29 back in 2009.
Among the other two Indians who had previously broken into the top-100, Jyoti Randhawa went as high as 70 while Gaganjeet Bhullar reached a career-high of 85.
At present, Shiv Kapur at 154 is next best ranked Indian in the world followed by Gaganjeet Bhullar at 173.
Lahiri’s fourth win on Asian Tour and the first outside India, brings him closer to his personal goal of top-50 in World Rankings, which would then get him a berth in Majors.
Currently, if he manages to get inside top-60 or ties on May 26 or June 9, 2014, Lahiri will get a berth into the US Open at the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Lahiri could also get a last-minute berth into the British Open, if he manages to squeeze inside top-50 by May 21, 2014, which means he has the Championship in Singapore, which is co-sanctioned with Europe, and the Philippines Open over the next four weeks.
Further the PGA Championships, the fourth and last Major each year, usually invites all top-100 players, not otherwise qualified, on the World Ranking list. For that he needs to stay in the top-100 till the week before the PGA, which will be held from August 4.
Lahiri’s sole Major appearance was at the 2012 British Open Royal in 2012, when he made the cut and also landed a hole-in-one on the third day and finished in a tie for 31st place.
Adding to Asia’s growing reputation in world golf was the performance of Korea’s 22-year-old Noh Seung-yul in the United States on Sunday. . Noh cut his professional teeth on the Asian Tour in 2008 where he was Rookie of the Year before becoming the youngest ever player to win the prestigious Order of Merit in 2010 at the age of 19 years old.
Lahiri, 26, produced a magnificent eagle on the 72nd hole to win the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters by one shot.
Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han, a former Asia No. 1, hailed the success of Lahiri and Noh.
“Anirban produced a fantastic victory at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters to claim his fourth win on the Asian Tour while I have every confidence that players like Kiradech, Gaganjeet, Sididkur, Baek and Fung, to name a few, will also become very successful on the international stage,” Han said.
“Through the opportunities to compete on the Asian Tour which allows our players to experience various tournament conditions, our players have made the most of the opportunities to become better players.
“Over the years, we have enjoyed watching our players like Thongchai Jaidee, Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal winning in Europe and the US and it is really exciting for us to see a new crop of young players showing that they are also capable of winning anywhere around the world.”
He added, “It is rewarding for us to see Noh winning his first title on the PGA Tour. He is one of our most talented products and we are delighted for him and his family. Noh joined the Asian Tour as a prodigious young talent and left a lasting impression in his four seasons with us before enjoying success in the US.”
Noh became only the third Korean after KJ Choi and YE Yang, both Asian Tour honorary members, to win on the PGA Tour and Han believes the youngster can go on to become a regular contender on the world stage, including at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Asia’s magnificent draw with Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia last month was also another highlight which reinforced the growing standard of the game in the region.
While Lahiri became the second highest ranked player after Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (49th), Noh moved up from 176th rank to 88th.–PTI