Golf — Looking toward the Presidents Cup, India’s Anirban Lahiri gaining ground


A bogey-free final round 65 at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament didn’t get Anirban Lahiri into next week’s U.S. Open, but the 29-year-old did lock up his PGA Tour card for next season.

The Bangalore, India, native tied Rickie Fowler for second place, with both cashing paychecks of $765,600. That’s almost the amount of money Lahiri earned so far this year ($784,474) in 13 previous starts. His total prize money for the year puts him well inside the threshold for being able to play on the PGA Tour in the 2017-18 season.

Lahiri is also not qualified for next week’s U.S. Open, but he moved to No. 65 in the Official World Golf Ranking released Monday with his T-2 finish at the Memorial. Being inside the top 60 is crucial because if he can accomplish that feat by Monday, June 12, he would get a tee time in the field at Erin Hills. That would be his first major or World Golf Championship event of 2017.

Moving up will be hard to do because he’s not playing this week in Memphis. And last week he made the decision not to attempt the 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifiers June 5 at various sites around the United States. Instead, if he doesn’t get into the U.S. Open via the world rankings exemption, his next start will be the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

After missing three straight cuts, what flipped the switch for Lahiri this week in Ohio that led to his best finish ever in a PGA Tour event?

“Sometimes when you push yourself harder, it works against you,” he said. “And I feel that was what was happening. I just tried to lay back and just stick to doing what I do well, which is just stay calm and relaxed on the golf course. I think I was — I wasn’t in a good frame of mind, and I think that’s what’s changed this week.”

Also on Lahiri’s mind is making the International Presidents Cup team, captained by Zimbabwe’s Nick Price. Coming into the Memorial, Lahiri was 22nd in the Presidents Cup standings, and he would need to move up into the top 10 by September 4, 2017, to play in the matches being held outside New York City at the end of September. Price also has two captain’s selections that he will name Sept. 6 for the competition at Liberty National Golf Club.

As for what the near-term future holds for Lahiri, he plans to let things come to him more and not press so hard for results.

“There’s so much things you can push for,” he said. “You can push for the U.S. Open. I haven’t played a major or WGC this year. Like I said, I beat myself up a little bit because I played 10 consecutive majors, and now I’m not in any major yet. I should get into the last [the PGA Championship], hopefully. But that kind of plays on your mind.

“You feel like you’re going backwards. So you just have to gather yourself and go back to what you have been doing. And I think that’s where I find myself. So I’m just doing that, just going to focus on my golf, be good to myself and let the results take care of themselves.”

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