Lahiri completed his remaining seven holes in even par after trading a bogey on 15 and a birdie on 16 and leads on 9-under 207 from Sebastian Munoz (65), Doug Ghim (68), Paul Casey (69) and Sam Burns (71) in the TOUR’s flagship $20 million tournament.
It will be only the second time in his career that the Indian will hold the 54-hole lead as he seeks to join countryman Arjun Atwal (2010 Wyndham Championship) as the only Indian to win on the PGA Tour.
Lahiri leads heading into final round.1. @anirbangolf -9T2. @jsmunozgolf -8T2. @DougGhim -8T2. @Paul_Casey -8… https://t.co/RehTbCP5iG
— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) 1647269536000
He is also bidding to become the third Asian to win THE PLAYERS after Korea’s KJ Choi (2011) and Si Woo Kim (2017).
“There’s not much to get too far ahead of yourself. I’m just trying to stay in the moment and just do what I need to do next. I think the short turnaround time actually helps because you don’t really have time to do anything else.
“You’re just on a schedule and you’re trying to make sure that you are resting and prepping and feeling and doing all the things that you need to do. It’s been pretty good actually,” said Lahiri, who will head out with Ghim and Munoz in the last group at 1.01pm local time.
Lahiri, whose best finish on TOUR was a T2 at the 2017 Memorial Tournament, had led into the final round at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in 2016 before finishing tied third.
The welcome change in form has put Lahiri in a good place as he seeks his career breakthrough despite struggling all season without a single top-10.
And it looks like all it has taken for the change in fortunes was adding some 3.5 grams of weight to his irons and making a slight adjustment to have a more open stance at address.
“I love golf, and when you know you can play well and you don’t, you’re not happy. Then when you start playing well again and you start hitting it the way you want to hit it again, you are happy. I mean, it’s pretty simple.
“I’m just in that place right now where I’m just hitting it nice, I’m seeing it nice, I’m feeling it nice, and that just makes me happy,” he said.
“My irons were pretty much the same as when I came here seven years ago. That’s basically what we thought and talked about and said, let’s experiment. It can’t be worse than what it is. I’ve been hitting it so bad to be honest.
“I was like, you know what, let’s just throw some lead tape on and see what happens because I’ve felt like I’m swinging good, and yeah, it made a huge difference.”
South African Louis Oosthuizen, who enters the final round three shots back of Lahiri, is not surprised to see the Indian challenging for a first win at THE PLAYERS. “He’s a great player. He’s obviously gone through a lot of things and wasn’t playing well there for a while, but when he gets going, he can shoot a low one.
“He’s a fighter really. You know, he doesn’t get down on himself. He goes and just plays and whatever happens, he’s focused on the next shot and the next hole. He’s a great character,” said Oosthuizen, who has been in two International Teams at the Presidents Cup with Lahiri previously.