28 August 2019: As the Finals of the Korn Ferry Tour reaches its climax this weekend, one man that will walk away content, yet driven, will be Anirban Lahiri. The Indian has been dancing on the edge of his potential for five years now and may have finally unlocked the keys to it with his work over the past few months.
Anirban has often been demanding of his own standards and rarely hesitates from taking a critical view of his performances. On his debut at the Masters in 2015, Anirban closed out with a bogey-free 72. One would have expected the golfer to be happy at getting through the round without any damage, yet he was far from satisfied.
“I left a bunch of makeable putts out there,” insisted Anirban. “I should have been three or four-under-par. Hopefully, I can come back and do much better the next time.” Those thoughts offer a deeper insight into the psyche of this brilliant golfer.
But since riding his success in Asia all the way to the PGA TOUR, Anirban has been battling for consistency. There have been plenty of times when the golfer from Bengaluru has shown us that he belongs in the top echelons of golf.
When he tied for second at the Memorial in 2017, he was in the company of Rickie Fowler, three strokes behind the winner, Jason Dufner. He was also in the reckoning on the final Sunday of the PGA Championship in 2015, before finishing T5, the best result for an Indian in the majors.
But glory has been far too intermittent for this ambitious golfer. Anirban has endured a difficult season, with barely a result of note since the T10 in the fall season’s Mayakoba Classic. As a consequence, he dropped to 178 in the FedEx Cup standings, leading to an existential crisis on the PGA TOUR.
The resolute golfer isn’t one to take it lying down. Despite the setbacks, he missed nine cuts this season, Anirban huddled with his team and worked extra hard with his long-time mentor to address the flaws that were costing him his peace.
“Vijay and I put in a lot of work in the late summer, but it has taken some time for the results to show,” acknowledged Anirban. “I’m just glad that it has come in time for me to head back to the PGA Tour. Reducing the errors was a key factor in what we have worked on and that is a very encouraging sign.”
The results he is referring to are back to back top ten finishes in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Finals events. Anirban was T7 in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship before he secured his card with another stellar effort in the Boise Open last week, where he finished T5.
“It feels good to have played consistently these past two weeks. I started the first tournament being 2 over par after the first 6 holes,” said Anirban. “Since then I haven’t looked back. The focus and hunger have been good.”
With the wind behind his sails, Anirban can look ahead to this week’s Korn Ferry Tour Championship and beyond, eyeing the coveted W. The fact that he is number two on the PGA TOUR’s power rankings feature for the Championship in Indiana, should add to his silent confidence.
“I will play this week in the third playoff event and then take a week off before starting at Greenbrier for the 2020 season. I have not scheduled beyond just yet.”
Greenbrier is where Anirban posted his lowest score on the PGA TOUR, a 61 laced with nine birdies in July last year. It might be just the place to start a good tide and put his career back where it belongs.
First, though, he would like a good showing at Victoria National in Indiana. That is where the Championship will be played this week as the Korn Ferry Tour wraps up another great season with a great show.
The course is consistently among the top three hardest courses in the USA and it will just the kind of challenge that might help Anirban take stock of his game, before plunging into a promising fifth full season on the PGA TOUR.