Categorized | 2014, May 2014, News, On Tour

The CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters 2014

By: Antony Sutton

George Gandranata

Indonesia’s Number #1 ranked golf golfer George Gandranata was the only local to make the cut, he finished in the Top 50

The CIMB Niaga Indonesia Masters 2014 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club ended with a new name at the top of the leader board.

26 year old Anirban Lahiri, born in India’s tech capital of Bangalore lifted his first trophy outside of his native country, with a 17 under 271, in the process pocketing the lion’s share of the $750,000 on offer and reminding people that when it comes to golf in Asia there is more than just South Korea and Japan.

Leading the Southeast Asian charge was the flamboyant Thai Kiradech Aphibarnat who was just two shots behind the winner and one of five Thais in the top 15 on the final leaderboard.

Indonesia’s best effort came from George Gandranata who came in one under 287 following a disappointing third round where he hit 75 on the par 3 course.

But the story was Lahiri and despite it being his first major success overseas, it is not the first time he has made the headlines in international golf.

Making his debut at a major, the Open in 2012 at Royal Lythm & St Annes Golf Club, he not only made the cut, hitting 68 and 72 in the first two rounds, but he topped that with a hole in one on the par 3 9th.

The Royale Jakarta Golf Club of course is a far more humble setting than the prestigious Lancashire course but there was still a tournament to win and Lahiri acquiited himself well despite a start that saw him hit just 70 on the first round.

However, it seems that the third round agrees with his temperament as he went round in a more impressive 8 under, setting the scene for his ultimate triumph and catching the eye of the event sponsors with Arwin Rasyid, the president director of CIMB Niaga, saying the Indian had ‘played very well and was amazing to watch’ after offering the new champion his congratulations.

With Australian Cameron Smith starting the final round leading on 14 under, Lahiri needed to start the final day well and he did, parring the first hole then hitting three straight birdies, taking full advantage of Smith’s disastrous second hole where he hit a seven!

Asian Tour rookie Cameron Smith was in contention from Round 1

Asian Tour rookie Cameron Smith was in contention from Round 1

However, Lahiri wasn’t able to build on that impressive start straight away, dropping shots on the fifth. He ended the opening nine with 34 while the morning leader Smith returned a disappointing 39.

It was down to South Korean Suek-hyuen Baek to apply the pressure as he finished the front nine on 31.

Then came a familiar obstacle on Indonesian golf courses; the rain. A three hour break seemed to have affected Lahiri as he got back on the course and hit a double bogey on the 13th.

Smith battled hard to regain some of the momentum he had lost on the second and while he broke par five times on the back nine it was too little, too late. Come the 18th and a packed gallery, it was Lahiri who was feeling the pressure. Baek had finished and was back in the clubhouse watching the action unfold on TV screen and Lahiri knew all he had to do was eagle the final hole.

With his back to the lake, Lahiri checked the lie of the land and went for it. His 20 foot putt curved majestically and as it approached the hole, the crowd seemed to suck the ball down. The Indian punched the air in delight at winning his first title overseas and celebrated with his caddy.

Anirban Lahiri CIMB Niaga Masters Champion 2014

Anirban Lahiri CIMB Niaga Masters Champion 2014

Lahiri admitted he had a couple of problems with the competition approaching its denouement. ‘I had an awkward lie on 13. During the rain delay, I was thinking that I have to get up and down there…Unfortunately, I got a double bogey there but I am glad I came back strong.’

With that final putt, Lahiri, was actually thinking more about a possible play off! ‘When I was walking up to the greens, I was actually thinking if I need to prepare for a play off (the following morning)!’

While Baek missed out on top spot, he recalled he nearly withdrew from the competition because of an injured elbow. ‘On the first day, I told my caddy if I can par the first hole, I will continue to play.’ He did, he continued to play and he came oh so close to winning his first event.

Of the big name European and American players, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger finished joint 10th, 12 under.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s best effort came in tied 44th, one under. But George Gandranata reflected positively on the week. “My worse round this week is better than my best round last year!’

Gandranata had changed his approach for the CIMB Niaga Indonesia Masters and is happy with the results. ‘I decided to play a little more conservative and I didn’t attack as much as I did in the past…I am happy the plan worked for me this time around,’ he explained.

Looking forward, he feels playing in the Asian Development Tour has been beneficial and helped his golf improve and describes the ADT as a ‘great learning experience’ while looking forward to getting on as many Asian Tour events as possible.

This was the fourth time the Indonesian Masters had been held and Lahiri became the third player to lift the trophy.

The first year, 2011, had seen England’s Lee Westwood win, hitting 269 for 19 under par and defeating Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee by three strokes.

12 months later and Westwood retained the title, defeating another Thai, Thaworn Wiratchant.

In 2013, Wiesberger broke Westwood’s private little monopoly, finishing on a 15 under 273, ahead of South Africa’s Ernie Else.

Lahiri’s victory marks the first time an Asian has won the event.

Leading scores after round 4 of the CIMB NIAGA Indonesian Masters being played at the par 72, 7340 Yards Royale Jakarta GC course (a- denotes amateur):

271 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 70-69-64-68.

272 – BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 71-68-68-65, Cameron SMITH (AUS) 68-67-67-70.

273 – Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 71-69-65-68.

274 – Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71-72-67-64, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 68-70-69-67, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 70-64-72-68, S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND) 71-66-69-68.

275 – Rashid KHAN (IND) 70-70-64-71.

276 – Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 68-68-72-68, Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 68-71-69-68, Gunn CHAROENKUL (THA) 70-69-67-70.

277 – Dimitrios PAPADATOS (AUS) 73-72-66-66, Chan KIM (USA) 69-69-70-69, Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 72-68-67-70.

About Antony Sutton

I am a freelance writer who has been hanging round South East Asia for about 20 years. Unfortunately, I haven’t picked up a club in anger since my days in Bangladesh on the Kurmitola course where I benefited greatly from the words and wisdom of Nelson, the one armed caddy. Today, I keep threatening to head to the local driving range to shake off the cobwebs but haven’t yet made good with that promise. Instead I content myself with a few quiet, cold beers once in a while and helping my son become a good Arsenal fan!

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