Lahiri raised the bar for India

Bengalurean claimed his first Asian Tour title abroad in a memorable year

Lahiri raised the bar for India

Six Asian Tour titles, the splendid rise of the next generation and the current flag-bearer taking his game to another level, Indian golf enjoyed another fabulous time in 2014.

Having emerged as the new face of Indian golf following his brilliant exploits over the last few years, Anirban Lahiri savoured a season that he had be aiming for since his rise through the ranks.

From landing his maiden overseas Asian Tour title to securing a coveted European Tour card, Lahiri was simply sensational, proving why he has been rated so highly by some of the Asian Tour greats.

The 27-year-old Bengalurean, who had come close to winning abroad quite a few times but just couldn’t find the magic touch, finally tasted success at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters in April with a stunning eagle on the final hole. That win paved the way for greater things to come.

He earned the right to play in two Majors -- The Open Championship and the PGA Championship -- but sadly could not make the cut in neither of them, with illness pegging him back during the PGA Championship.

Although his performance at the Grand Slams was a bit of disappointment, Lahiri stilled ruled the roost on the Asian Tour, winning a fifth crown in the continent at the Venetian Macau Open in October.

With a tied second place finish at the King’s Cup and third place at the Worldwide Selangor Masters, the Indian’s consistency helped him sign off second on the Tour and rise to 64th in the World Rankings.

Rashid Khan, another youngster who has been rated highly, actually set the tone for all his compatriots when he claimed his maiden Asian Tour title in the season-opening SAIL-SBI Open at his home course Delhi Golf Club. Playing in his first full season, the 23-year-old added another feather to his cap with a brilliant win at the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand.

Shiv Kapur, who has had his ups and downs over the last few years, couldn’t muster a title but was consistent for most of the season. He finished tied 23rd at the US Open and managed to retain his rights of playing in Europe.

Success also shone on two fading stars of Indian golf. Arjun Atwal, the only Indian to win on the PGA Tour, and SSP Chowrasia injected some much-needed confidence to their sagging careers.

Atwal, struggling with injury that almost put a full stop to his golf, rose from nowhere to triumph in the inaugural Dubai Open, ending a four-year title drought. It was the same case with Chowrasia, who won the Panasonic Open for his first title in three years.

However, it was another disappointing year for the father figure of Indian golf, Jeev Milkha Singh. Battling injuries and poor form, Jeev missed a shocking 15 cuts and failed to finish inside even the top-25 in any of the events he competed.

On the domestic front, S Chikkarangappa was the most dominant with three victories to lie second in the Order of Merit List. He also won an Asian Development Tour title that should make his progression to Asia smoother.

Trishul Chinnappa won the All-India Amateur Championship at KGA, a course where he first learnt to hold the club, while the talented Aditi Ashok scored a grand treble at the Ladies and Junior Girls Championship this month. Sharmila Nicollet too was beset by injuries and struggled to make an impact on the Ladies European Tour.

The sole Indian competing there, she had to requalify in order to retain her playing rights which she failed to do.

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