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Anirban Lahiri may have narrowly missed out on his first PGA Tour win at the Players Championship. However, his second-place finish at TPC Sawgrass has already had a significant effect on his standing in the game – and his bank balance.
The Indian came agonisingly close to the birdie he needed to force a playoff with eventual winner Cameron Smith before having to settle for the runner-up spot in the rain-interrupted tournament. Nevertheless, the gains to Lahiri have been immediate. The most obvious one is his bank balance. Before the Players Championship, Lahiri’s earnings for the season stood at just $105,226. However, thanks to the record prize money at this season’s unofficial fifth Major, Lahiri banked $2.18m. That figure boosted the 34-year-old’s career earnings from $6,327,667, and is almost double his European Tour career earnings, which stand at €2.49m (around $2.73m).
As well as the tangible benefits, Lahiri’s performance has achieved something else, too – it’s made the golf world take notice of a considerable talent. There had been signs of Lahiri’s ability throughout his career. He has 18 professional wins – mainly on the Asian Tour. However, he also won the European Tour’s Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open in 2015. Those wins - and a tie for 5th in that year's PGA Championship - helped elevate Lahiri’s world ranking to a career-high 33, but arguably, finishing second at TPC Sawgrass his raised his profile to its highest level yet.
Lahiri also earned 48 world ranking points for his Players Championship performance. That's 10 more than his previous best, which he earned for winning the 2015 Malaysian Open, and his best in five years. Overall, Lahiri's world ranking has seen a huge jump, from a 322 to 89. Before the Players Championship, Lahiri’s 2022 had been unimpressive, to say the least, which accounted for his lowly ranking. He missed the cut at three tournaments in a row before breaking that run with a tie for 74th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Before that, his highest place finish of the year so far was a tie for 46th in January’s Farmer’s Insurance Open. In truth, though, Lahiri had been making steady progress for over a year after plummeting to 686 in September 2020. That improvement included a 5th-place finish at last year’s Valero Texas Open and a tie for third at the Barbasol Championship last July.
Before the tournament, Lahiri explained his approach to dealing with his struggles: “You’re one week away from being a PGA Tour winner. You’re one week away from being at Augusta. You’re one week away from having a two, three-year exemption. You’re one week away from you having a different kind of conversation with me. So really, the road map boils down to what can I do to play better? What can I do to change the kind of scores I’m shooting?”
Whatever Lahiri did change, it has altered the trajectory of his career – possibly for good. Of course, the prestige of winning the Players Championship is something neither money nor rankings can buy. However, if Lahiri is searching for consolation after running Smith so close, he need look no further than his substantially increased career earnings, huge jump in the world rankings, and – of course – an increased profile that will ensure he’s one to watch in the tournaments to come.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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