Stuck at his parents place in Hyderabad without his golf clubs, India’s Anirban Lahiri heaved a sigh of relief after getting the good news that his playing status on the elite PGA Tour has been guaranteed for not only the remainder of the year but also for the 2020-21 season.
“Without doubt it is a big relief and the PGA Tour has taken the right decision keeping in mind the current conditions (COVID-19 pandemic),” said Lahiri, who has been on the Tour since 2015.
Lahiri, who made his card for the current season through the top-50 of Korn Ferry Tour in late 2019, has been struggling with his form in the 12 events he had played so far since the Fall when the ongoing season began.
In 12 events, he has made five cuts, withdrew once and missed the cut seven times. His best finish has been T-44 in Puerto Rico and T-45 at Sanderson Farms Championship.
Lying 209th in the FedexCup standings when the Arnold Palmer Invitational was completed, Lahiri needed a strong finish in the second half.
“It makes me feel good that regardless of next couple of months, I will definitely have status on PGA tour. It helps me to plan accordingly. So, all in all, a very good policy and I am excited and happy,” he said.
“I think they have done a very good job of creating a system, where everybody who has exemption this year will remain exempt next year. They are also looking at shuffling between all those exempt players who perform well in this shortened season to get advantage next season.
“I think it is a very good policy that they have come up with. Obviously there are not many tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour to play a Korn Ferry Finals, because they will be hardly playing any events. Remember their season starts only in January, while we have had 11 events even before the calendar year started.”
On his own preparation, Lahiri said he aims to get his form back during the coronavirus-forced lockdown period.
“For me I am hoping to get into a few events in the remainder of the season. Hopefully the lockdown situation in India allows me to get some practice time and eventually fly back in time for the season to re-start,” he said.
The cancellation of numerous events added to the pressure, before the PGA Tour decided to ensure status for all players, exempt in 2019-20, to retain their status for 2020-21, too.
The news came following a meeting between PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan and members of the Players Advisory Committee via a telephone conference.
It means a lot of relief and peace of mind for many international members of the PGA Tour, who may be outside US in their home countries.
Though, the PGA Tour is slated to re-start in June with Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial, many of the international stars, including Lahiri, are unsure of making it back in time because of current suspension of air travel in many countries.
Having lost almost three months — no event has been held since the Arnold Palmer Invitational — the season has just 13 events left in the 2019-20 season.
As many as 10 events have been cancelled and 11 events have been juggled around with new dates.
The 2020-21 season starts in September with the Safeway Championship in California.
With no Major having been held so far, three will be held between August and November but only the PGA Championship, tentatively set for August 9-12 in San Francisco, falling in the current season.
The US Open has been pushed to September and the Masters has been moved to November, so the next season 2020-21 will have six Majors including two US Open, two Masters and one each of the PGA and The Open Championship, which was cancelled in 2020.
The current 2019-20 season is thus far scheduled to have just one Major the PGA Championship.