PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A small tweak has made a significant difference for Anirban Lahiri.
Lahiri added a 3 ½-gram lead weight to a 2014 set of Srixon irons and it has rejuvenated his stagnant game. Not only has he added about 10 yards in length, but most importantly, he’s seen a tighter dispersion.
“It’s frustrating when you know you’re not making bad swings and you’re not getting the results you want,” Lahiri said earlier this week at The Players Championship, “so it’s equally satisfying when it comes together like this.”
Statistically one of the worst ball-strikers on Tour this season – he’s ranked 212th out of 217 players in strokes gained: approach – Lahiri looks like a changed man this week at TPC Sawgrass. Through three rounds he is gaining more than 5 ½ shots on the field with his iron play, seventh-best among those who made the cut.
With 18 holes to go, Lahiri is a stroke clear of the deepest field in golf. At 9-under 207, he has a one-shot lead over Sam Burns, Paul Casey, Sebastian Munoz and Doug Ghim.
“I’m happy with the way I finished,” he said, “and just looking forward to the rest of the day.”
Lahiri barely kept his card last season (118th in FedExCup points) and is currently ranked outside the top 200, after not posting a single top-25 in 12 starts.
Though the 34-year-old has 18 professional wins, he hasn’t won anywhere since 2015.
Full-field scores from The Players Championship
Lahiri said the quick turnaround time between rounds – he’ll have about three hours before heading out again – actually is beneficial for him. There wasn’t much time to dwell the night prior on what he’d done so far. And there won’t be much time now to ponder what the afternoon will bring.
“There’s no time for the memories – you’ve just got to stay in the present. The next shot is all I’m thinking about and trying to not carry anything forward,” he said. “It’s very easy to do on this golf course, so I’m only looking forward.”
If he goes on to win, Lahiri would be one of the biggest surprise winners in the history of the championship. It’ll also be the most profitable, with a record $3.6 million prize awaiting the champion.
With that kind of windfall, Lahiri will be able to splurge on an expensive dinner for Graeme McDowell. Last week in Orlando, the 2010 U.S. Open champion gifted Lahiri one of the last sets of this 2014 model, for whenever he next needs them.
“I told him I’d take him for a nice curry dinner,” Lahiri said. “I know he likes it, so he’s up for that.”