At 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, Anirban Lahiri hardly can be described as imposing. But the 28-year-old from India outblasted all comers at the PGA Championship’s Long Drive Competition.
Lahiri, a two-time European Tour winner who ranks 79th in driving distance on that circuit with an average of 292.3 yards per measured poke, piped one 327 yards on the par-5 second hole at Whistling Straits during his Tuesday practice round.
Lahiri’s swat outdistanced those of club pro Matt Dobyns (323) and J.B. Holmes (315) among drives that hit the fairway. Jimmy Walker (314) and Jordan Spieth (313) rounded out the top five.
Big-hitting Bubba Watson, who petulantly hit 3-iron off the tee when the competition was revived last year after a long absence, opted for the big stick this year but missed the fairway. So did Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.
Louis Oosthuizen, who won last year’s contest at Valhalla Golf Club with a 340-yard blast, played only the back nine Tuesday at Whistling Straits and therefore did not defend his title.
Lahiri’s reward for winning? A gold money clip and a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choosing.