Lahiri surges clear in pur­suit of maiden PGA Tour ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Anir­ban Lahiri moved into po­si­tion to record a first PGA Tour vic­tory when the In­dian fired an ex­quis­ite third round seven-un­der 65 at the TPC Kuala Lumpur course to storm four shots clear of the field at the CIMB Clas­sic yes­ter­day.

Lahiri’s nine birdies off­set an ugly dou­ble-bo­gey six on the 12th as the Pune-born 29-year-old moved to 19un­der for the tour­na­ment, well ahead of overnight leader and de­fend­ing cham­pion Justin Thomas (71) and Scot­land’s Rus­sell Knox (68). “I just have to try and do the same thing on the last round,” Lahiri told re­porters. “Every­body is making birdies all the way around so I don’t think there’s any other way to do it.” First round co-leader Derek Fathauer, James Hahn and Hideki Mat­suyama are a fur­ther shot adrift at the $7 mil­lion event but with the rest of the field six or more strokes fur­ther back, the win­ner is likely to come from the top six on the leader­board. Lahiri claimed one of his two Euro­pean Tour wins on this course at last year’s Malaysian Open and his fa­mil­iar­ity with the lay­out and hu­mid con­di­tions will give him the con­fi­dence to con­vert his healthy ad­van­tage into vic­tory to­day.

Now based pri­mar­ily on the US cir­cuit, Lahiri warmed up for the CIMB Clas­sic in Ma­cau and al­though he lost the Asian Tour event in a play­off, the six straight birdies he rat­tled off to tie for the lead af­ter 72 holes showed he was in great form. Dis­play­ing pin­point ac­cu­racy with his irons, Lahiri has notched up 25 birdies in his open­ing three rounds but was held back by late lapses on Thurs­day and Fri­day when he dropped a to­tal of four shots on the clos­ing holes. Yes­ter­day, how­ever, he birdied both the 17th and 18th holes to main­tain a size­able ad­van­tage over the chas­ing pack. “I’m in a good frame of mind com­ing in af­ter last week where I felt like I let one get away. I will do my best to im­prove on that and I am glad I kept my fo­cus all the way through the round to­day,” Lahiri added.

Thomas started the day with a twostroke lead but the 23-year-old suf­fered a mid-round melt­down, drop­ping four shots in three holes from the 10th, be­fore the Amer­i­can ral­lied back into con­tention with five con­sec­u­tive birdies from the 14th. The CIMB Clas­sic is the sec­ond event on the 2017 PGA Tour and is co­sanc­tioned by the Asian Tour. —Reuters

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