Indian Lahiri captures Panasonic Open in a playoff

Anirban Lahiri poses with the Panasonic Open trophy at India Gate.

Anirban Lahiri never had fared well at Delhi Golf Club, a venerable track in his homeland of India. So, entering a playoff for a chance to win the inaugural Panasonic Open, he did what any confidence-seeking golfer would do.

He tracked down his psychologist.

“I gave a quick call to my psychologist and he told me to concentrate and believe in my abilities, and I guess it paid off,” Lahiri said.

Indeed, Lahiri punctuated his victory with a birdie on the first playoff hole, defeating Singapore's Mardan Mamat and compatriot Manav Jaini. The trio finished regulation play at 13-under 275 on April 9.

Lahiri, who shot a final round 71, won the event that was co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI.) It was held at Delhi Golf Club, where Lahiri had struggled so often in the past that his misery had become the target of good-humored jabs.

"Somebody once told me that if I could win at the Delhi Golf Club, I would probably be laughing as I have had such a bad record here," said the 23-year-old Indian. "I guess the joke is on them now.”

The final round featured volatile play as the three contenders jockeyed for the lead.

Lahiri trailed overnight leader Mardan by three shots going into the final round and started in promising fashion with an opening birdie. But he stumbled with two bogeys on the front nine. His up-and-down play continued with a birdie on 10 and another bogey two holes later.

But the turning point came when Lahiri eagled the par-5 14th, which catapulted him into a tie for the lead with Jaini. Mardan joined them when he made birdie on the final hole.

“I’m happy that I kept myself in it, because I was always trailing in the back-nine so I’m really happy to be able to come from that position and win,” Lahiri said.

For Mardan, the euphoria of making the playoff quickly gave way to the disappointment of another loss.

Mardan is mired in a five-year winless streak.

“It was not my day, but what I can take from this week’s performance is that I have the ability to compete at the highest level," Mardan said.

Jaini has finished in the top-five in his past three starts at the Delhi Golf Club.

“I missed several short putts especially in my last four holes. That cost me the tournament,” Jaini said.

Panasonic, which committed to the title sponsorship of this event, also hosts the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open in Japan, a tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour. The top three players of the Panasonic Open secured invitations to the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open, which is scheduled for Sept. 22-25 at Biwako Country Club in Shiga Prefecture.

- Asiantour.com contributed to this report.

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