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Refreshed Anirban Lahiri all set for FedExCup Playoffs in Memphis

New York, Aug 10 (IANS) Ace golfer Anirban Lahiri’s recent trip home to India to fine-tune his game seems to have done the trick for him as he heads into the lucrative FedExCup Playoffs in Memphis brimming with confidence starting on Thursday (August 11).

The 35-year-old Lahiri snapped a run of poor form with a tied eighth finish at the Wyndham Championship last Sunday, which has put him in a buoyant mood as he prepares for his fifth Playoffs, starting with the FedEx St Jude Championship at TPC Southwind.

The next couple of weeks will be crucial for the Asian star as he seeks to qualify for his first ever appearance in the season-finale, the Tour Championship in Atlanta, and also a third appearance in the Presidents Cup for the International Team.

“You want to get hot at the right time of the year. There’s never a bad time to play well, but if there’s ever a good time to play well, it’s now. You can have a pretty average year, but if (it’s) your good week, you’re in the Playoffs…it will give the entire season a different outlook,” said Lahiri, who begins the post-season in 63rd position on the FedExCup standings.

The top-125 qualified for the first of three Playoffs event this week, with the top-70 progressing into next week’s BMW Championship and finally the top-30, making it through to the Tour Championship which crowns the new FedExCup champion who will earn USD18 million.

Lahiri will also seek to break into the top-8 of the International Team standings by the end of next week to make his third Presidents Cup team. He is currently ranked 15th with two qualifying weeks remaining.

He spent nearly two weeks in India last month to work with long-time coach Vijay Divecha, partly due to him missing four cuts in five appearances since May. The dismal run spoilt an otherwise strong 2022 which saw him finish an impressive runner-up at Tour’s flagship tournament, The Players Championship in March, earning him USD2.18 million. He notched one other top-10 and two top-15s in his next four starts before his game hit a road bump following a break from competition to welcome the arrival of his son, Avyaan in early May.

“Just felt like I needed to clean up on my game,” said Lahiri of his trip home. “I hadn’t been playing my best. So I’m coming in with some rest, with some good work under my belt and looking to make a charge late in the season. This is the time of the year to play your best and hopefully make it all the way to the TOUR Championship, that’s definitely one of the goals.

“I think it was long overdue to see Vijay (Divecha). I’m very glad that I made that decision in Scotland and I flew out immediately to India. We spent a good 10 days or so and we worked on a bunch of different things. I knew there were four or five little nagging things that I needed to clean up, and on occasion I was confused as to which one I fix first. We looked at my grip, my posture, which has been my long-standing issue, so to speak, and then we also looked at kind of taking those aspects, those factors and finding a way to put it into my pre-shot routine. It was a very interesting, very fruitful trip.”

Travelling on Tour on a weekly basis can take its toll and Lahiri said spending time at home with his close friends and fellow golfers was the anecdote he needed to recharge his batteries for the post-season campaign.

“I also spent some time with my friends. It always makes me come back here (US) with a little more vigour because I see a lot of the youngsters, the amateurs, the young professionals and it makes me want to play better because they look up to me,” he said.

“Going back to India is always a breath of fresh air for me, definitely for my game and also for me personally. I’m looking forward to playing golf again and putting all that good work into use.”

Lahiri’s best finish in the FedExCup was 51st position in 2017 and he is aiming to achieve so much more. Qualifying for the Tour Championship is a priority as it will open up playing opportunities, especially in the majors and elevated events on the PGA Tour.

“It’s been a very up and down sort of season. I haven’t obviously had the consistency that I was looking for or I would like, but at the end of the day, the life cycle of the way a lot of the years pan out for professional golfers, you play well in patches,” he said.

“Ideally if I go deep into the Playoffs, if I get to the Tour Championship, in an ideal situation, then I’m looking at a different schedule. As the eligibility is kind of structured, if you finish in the top-60, you almost play five or six events that you otherwise wouldn’t play. You are going to be in the invitationals, you’re going to be in the shorter field events like Japan and The CJ Cup, and if you get to Tour Championship, you can add (Sentry) Tournament of Champions and the four majors to it.

“Suddenly you go from being 85th to 29th and you’re looking at a season where nine or 10 events are completely different from being a fully exempt PGA Tour player.”

–IANS

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