Lahiri set to overtake Jeev at PGA C’ship

India’s Anirban Lahiri will be participating in the 15th Major of his career at St. Louis, thereby wrenching the Indian record from Jeev Milkha Singh.

Anirban Lahiri is currently positioned 82nd in the world rankings.   -  AP

India’s Anirban Lahiri will have overtaken Jeev Milkha Singh to claim the Indian record for the most appearances at Major tourneys when he plays the PGA Championship. Lahiri will be participating in the 15th Major of his career.

Shubhankar Sharma, Lahiri’s younger colleague, will also be in the field and will be the youngest Indian and the third overall to have played all four Majors in a single year after Jeev (in 2007) and Lahiri (in 2015 and 2016).

Lahiri’s tied sixth finish at the WGC-Bridgestone is proof of his improvement. He is also up to 82nd on the FedExCup rankings and he could improve that this week. It has now put him back in top-100 of world rankings, and only four places behind Sharma.

Sharma has played the first three Majors, but made the cut in only one — the Open, where he was tied 51. He was tied ninth at his first WGC, but has since been languishing lower down at both WGC Matchplay and WGC-Bridgestone.

On Thursday, Sharma plays with Scott Piercy and Jordan Smith and will start at 10th tee in the morning wave, while Lahiri plays the first round in the afternoon alongside Brian Smock and Mike Lorenzo Vera.

All eyes on Woods

Across the world, however, all eyes will be on Tiger Woods after his splendid tied-sixth at the Open Championships in Carnoustie last month. Never has the American looked closer to clinching his 15th Major title in the last 10 years than now. With a sole lead on the 10th hole on the final day at Carnoustie, he provided a glimmer of hope.

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Woods goes out with Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy from 10th tee at 8.23 am. Jordan Spieth will play with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose from first at 1.37 pm.

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Woods at times looked tired at Firestone. But this is also his first full season since 2015, and so tiredness cannot be ruled out. Ahead of him, he still has the PGA and then possibly four FedEx Cup Playoff events in five weeks and then a week off before the Ryder Cup.

The PGA is sometimes seen as the lowest in the order of priorities in the Major set up, but still, a PGA title counts just the same as the Masters or the US Open or the British Open in a player’s career major championship total.

The Thomas-Spieth rivalry

Of late, comparisons have emerged between Justin Thomas and his friend Jordan Spieth, and it seems the former is pulling away and getting ahead. In the last 20 months, Thomas has seven wins, one Major title, one World Golf Championship title, 16 top-10 finishes and eight missed cuts, while Spieth has three wins, one Major title, no World Golf Championship title, 17 top-10 finishes and eight missed cuts. In the 2017-18 season, Thomas has three wins, one World Golf Championship title, seven top 10s and two missed cuts, while Spieth has no wins, no World Gofl Championship title, five top-10 finishes and five missed cuts.

In Majors, Spieth has the edge. Spieth has three Major titles, Thomas has one; Spieth has nine top-10 finishes in Majors, while Thomas has two.

The rivalry between Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson is also worth noting. Rory has 14 Tour wins and four Major titles, while Dustin has 19 wins but only one Major title. Jason Day, meanwhile, has 12 wins, but just a lone Major title (the PGA Championship).