Lahiri and Kiradech have a score to settle at PLAYERS Championship

Wed 13 Mar 2019

Lahiri and Kiradech have a score to settle at PLAYERS Championship

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 By V.Krishnaswamy, one of India's leading sports writers, who has covered over 20 Majors and 250 international golf tournaments. Follow him on Twitter via @Swinging_Swamy. 

Ponte Vedra Beach, March 13: Anirban Lahiri has never needed a good result like he does in these next few weeks. The PLAYERS Championships this week has not been good to him in the past three starts, but the Indian ace reckons he is close to setting that right. A good result this week could bring back confidence and set him back on the rails.

If Lahiri is upset with his last three starts, all of which ended after 36 holes, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat wants to erase memories of a quadruple-bogey seven at the 17th last year. That Island Green took away the chance he had of a Top-10.

Lahiri, who is working on some technical changes in his swing feels the ‘rectification work’ is beginning to click. Lahiri hopes and feels becoming a father for the first time last month and the shifting in the date of the PLAYERS Championships to March away from its previous slot in May, could change his fortunes, too.

Lahiri, who till recently used to be seen as a good putter, has been suffering on the greens. On Monday, he was there till late and was in fact the last to leave the practice green at the TPC Sawgrass. ‘The putter needs to work once again,” he said.

“I’m having one super-destructive round at every event of late,” said Lahiri. “I am making technical changes to my swing which is why there is some inconsistency. Some days I hit it great, some days I don’t. I’ve also been inconsistent on the greens. In the 80 that I shot last week, I lost six shots on putting which is not me. I’m going to be spending a lot of time on the greens this week.”

He took a fair amount of time off golf as he was with his wife, Ipsa, in India, while waiting for the arrival of their daughter Tisya early last month.

Soon after Lahiri married Ipsa in mid-2014, he went on to win four times on the Asian Tour and European Tour and secured his PGA TOUR card as well. He is now hoping the arrival of Tisya will change his luck, too.

“Physically I feel good, mentally I feel good and I personally think I’ve turned the corner as far as my golf swing is concerned,” he said. “Ipsa has been my lady luck and hopefully Tisya can bring me more luck which I could do with some right now.”

On the event as such, which every PGA Tour player calls as ‘theirs’ he called it an amazing event.  

He said, “It’s an amazing event. Anyone who comes here realises the stature of the event, the amazing way it’s run, the big crowds and TPC Sawgrass, it’ just amazing. I’m looking forward to this date, maybe it’ll bring a change in fortune as I’ve not had success here in May for whatever reason. Maybe this new wind and these new conditions might turn it around for me.”

Kiradech wants to erase memories of 2018 

At last year’s PLAYERS, Kiradech launched a brilliant final day campaign, getting to eight-under for the day before a quadruple-bogey 7 at the Island Green at par-3 17th signature hole sank his hopes. He still had a round of 67.

But for that quad, Kiradech would have got his full exempt status straight away instead of waiting till later. Earlier in the week he had a double at the same hole. But for those six shots, he could potentially have been Tied-second but instead finished T-30th.

This year he is in fine form again. Earlier this month, Kiradech was T3 finish at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. “I’m confident with my golf swing. I had a good week in Mexico and last week (Arnold Palmer Invitational) was also a good week (he finished T23).”

On last year’s 17th, Kiradech, ranked 39th in the world, recalled, “Just one hole I didn’t play good. I’ve forgotten already what I did last year and it’s a new tournament. The course is always in good shape, it’s a fantastic week. It’s in perfect condition and the fans are out to support us. I don’t think the course is different with the date change (from May). The wind is always difficult around here as it swirls from every direction. On 17, it can be tough as the grandstands block the winds so you can’t see what happens up in the air. It’s all up to me, and I want to put myself in the right position and keep it in play.”

Since he is playing mostly in the US, Kiradech has shifted to Orlando with his wife Tunyatorn Chaiyarat. 

This week Webb Simpson is the defending champion and will face a stellar field which features two-time PLAYERS champion Tiger Woods, current FedExCup number one Xander Schauffele and world number one Justin Rose.