HIO preview What They Said

Tue 15 Mar 2016

HIO preview What They Said

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Anirban Lahiri (Ind)
Must be excited to defend your title?
Yes, it is always nice to come back to the Delhi Golf Club and defend my title. There are a lot of things that are keeping me really happy. Obviously, I’m feeling very comfortable overdosing on Indian food (laughs).
Talk about last year’s win?
I have played so much golf here in the last five or six years. When you play the Delhi course during the practice round, you are gaging the conditions. There is always something different here. The course is probably the most lush I’ve seen it. The rough is also up. We’ve had a lot of rain so that will make the course play slightly different. The course is in great shape and I look forward to a great week.
Is it a different feeling coming back here as a defending champion?
For the Indian Open yes. This is one of the events where you want to keep coming back and defending over your lifetime. It is not something that I’m not used to because I’ve defended some titles in my career before. It is a good feeling to have and you know that it can be done under the pressure of what you need to do come Sunday. The whole exercise is to put yourself in the position again.
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
There are a lot of expectations of you, how are you coping with that?
It is a learning process for me. If you can manage your own expectations and if you can be positive yet realistic in terms of learning, getting better and playing consistently, the results will follow. I’m still learning to cope with that. When I’m home in India, there’s not much for me to do what I need to do. But when I’m in America, I have more time to focus on my golf and less off the golf course. I’m learning to cope with it and I’m enjoying it. It is a massive privilege to represent your country and constantly asked about India and golf in India.
Talk about the Olympics?
I’m certainly hopeful of being a contender at the Olympic games. I have been playing well and I can compete at that level. Rio is obviously important not only for me and whoever joins me but it is important for golf in India. It is a great opportunity for us to do something in the sport that gets witnessed and showcased unlike any other golf events because it is the Olympics. Do I have medal hopes? Yes I do. I definitely think I can contend and hopefully get a medal for India.
Can people relate to golf in the Olympics?
It depends on how we perform. Every time our team does well in cricket, the mass appeal goes up but ask someone about cricket today, after what happened yesterday, people are not so positive. Yes, golf is an Olympic sport but if we can go there and put on a good show then it will put the game in the spotlight. People have asked how it feels like to play in a Major championship. It is not just about being part of the field, the whole point is to go there and perform, contend and bring your game to the spotlight. That’s the only way people can have a connection.
Any part of your game you would like to improve on?
I think my game has evolved over the last three to four years. It has evolved a lot when it comes to adapting. I think my first four and a half years I played in India and Asia. Now I’m playing in America and Europe. I’ve had a few technical changes and adapting. The chopping and changing happens constantly. It is pretty much like any other sport. You play differently in America, Europe and Asia. Until you experience that, it is difficult to adapt but I’m feeling more comfortable now.
Have you set yourself any targets for this year?
The target will be to win on the PGA Tour, be in contention in the Majors and WGCs. Obviously the Olympics as well. The targets remain the same. You push yourself until you reach a level where you target the Majors, WGCs and Olympics. Most of the top players focus their schedule around the Majors.
You have been at the top of the leaderboard on the PGA Tour a couple of times, even in the top five in a Major and you are playing with guys who have won also, do you feel that win is round the corner?
You play week in-and-out, with a lot of guys out there. And every other week some friend of yours is winning. So, it tells you that there is not much of a difference. The whole point is how consistent you can be. It’s one area that I have found myself to be wanting in the past few months. I haven’t been consistent with my performance over 72 holes. Having said that, I have played a lot of good golf and that’s a positive sign for me. I think it’s a matter of being patient and a matter of trusting yourself when you are in a good position and not forcing yourself. I think I am still learning since it’s my first year out on the PGA Tour as a full member. So, I have to work really hard to being nice to myself, because one of the things that happen very easily is that you are very hard on yourself. So, you have to balance between trying and not trying too hard and just letting it happen. I definitely feel that I can join my friends being a winner on the tour.
You have had just 15 or 16 starts on the PGA Tour. So it’s just the start?
I would think that this is just the beginning of what would be a long tenure of golf at the highest level. Obviously, in sport you can’t predict anything. You do you bit, you work hard, you stay determined and you stay focused, and hopefully you get those important breaks and hopefully stay at that level and play at that level. But you can’t take anything for granted.
Are you planning to have a mental conditioning coach again?
No, I haven’t had a mental conditioning coach for four years now. Since then, I have relied on my experiences and a Vipasana meditation to deal with various situations and you learn from your experiences. I would like to think that I have a pretty sound mental makeup. But having said that, you are bound to get ups and downs. You got to learn to deal with it and carry on.
How different it’s playing on the PGA Tour compared to playing in India or Asia?
When you start playing in India, you get comfortable here. When you graduate to Asia, things are different, but not too different in terms of food and conditions. Then when you go to Europe, it’s a bit more uncomfortable and America is quite similar to Europe. Ultimately, it’s about yourself. If you want to push yourself to get to the next level, you have to get out of the comfort zone. And that’s where I find myself time and again. It’s all about getting over that initial phase.
What’s your plan playing the Delhi course?
Not really. Over the years if you have a strategy at Delhi Golf Club, you don’t mess with it. It is hard enough playing here so you stick with it. Four years ago, I took my driver out and that’s never going to make an appearance at the Delhi Golf Club. You understand what is the most comfortable way to play a golf course. I try to repeat what I’ve managed to do well. It is not about having a new strategy, it is about execution. I’ve won a few times and contended numerous times. I won’t reinvent a new strategy because my plan works. I just need to execute it better and more efficiently.
Padraig Harrington (Irl)Padraig Harrington
Thoughts playing at the Hero Indian Open?
The last time I was here was in 1992. It was the only time I was here Amateur Golf Championship of India in Calcutta and I lose in the semi-final. I still remember missing a short putt on the 20th hole.
How do you find the course?
I played nine holes and I really like what I saw. It is in great condition. Obviously it is difficult off the tees. You get the ball going the wrong way and it might end up into the trees. A lot of intimidating factor off the tees but the goal is conservative off the tees and aggressive attacking the greens. You have to accept that you will make a few mistakes which results in double bogeys but hopefully you make enough birdies to counter that.
What do you think of the field this week?
Indian golf has grown from strength to strength. More and more players are coming along and obviously Anirban (Lahiri) is your number one guy at the moment. It is a numbers game, the more pros you produce, they put pressure on each other and they will be pushing each other along. Basically that’s how you produce the world’s best players and Major winners.
Around the world, more people are getting into golf. 30 years ago you played golf when you couldn’t get into football. Now the top student in school chooses to play golf. In Ireland, we have a lot of winners because it is competitive in the junior ranks.
It is a strong field, probably stronger than I imagined. By choice, a lot of European players have come here. It is perfect scheduling time. It is perfect weather in India. A lot of things have attracted a strong field. I fully expected a strong Asian Tour presence and I see a lot of familiar faces from Europe.
What keeps you going?
I love playing golf. Wouldn’t you want to play golf every day of the week? I’m fascinated with the game. For me there are new challenges every day and that’s what keeps me motivated. On my good day, I can still beat the best players in the world.
What made you come to the Hero Indian Open?
During the winter, I was looking at my Schedule to get my European Tour events in. I decided to play in India and see what it is like. It is really nice when I do leave the United States. It is nice for me to be treated like a star here, do press conferences and my picture is on the wall. It is good for a player like me to come out and play around the world. It is a nice feeling.
Would you be a Hero Indian Open regular?
If I win this year, then I will come back and defend next year. For us, it is all about the Schedule. I’m delighted to be here and I’m feeling good even though I travelled from Florida on Sunday night.
Given how hard it is off the tees, will you change strategy?
I’m using the same clubs as I did last week. I’ve heard players say they’ve taken out the driver but if I need to make eagle on the last hole then I will be hitting driver. I got to have that club in my bag and that option if I’m chasing with nine holes to go. I believe you should be conservative off the tees and aggressive into the greens.
Obviously looking for a win?
I’m looking to be in contention. Every week I go out there, I look to be in contention heading into the last nine holes. I know if I did that every week, then I know I will have enough wins by the end of the year that I’ll be happy with. The goal is to have a chance and feel the pressure on Sunday.
Miguel Tabuena (Phi)
Thoughts playing at the Hero Indian Open?
Honestly, I have bad memories on this course. I played my first professional event at the Delhi Golf Club in 2011 and since then, I’ve not had a good result here. My game is in a good shape now and I’m positive of my chances of doing well. Anything can happen here but I hope for the best.
What have you learnt about playing the Delhi course?
My body has changed and I’ve gained distance now. I’ve learnt to play this golf course better mentally. I’ve learnt how to prepare mentally when I play on this course. You can’t give up on any shots on this course because anything can happen. You must take the good and bad when you play here.
What’s your game plan here?
If you have to trust yourself and ability to hit driver here. You need to be 100% committed in every shot you hit. The drive will be in the bag for me this week.
No stress this week?
It is not a stressful week knowing you have secured your card for next year. The main goal this year is to play in the Olympics and contend for the number one spot on the Asian Tour. I’ve put myself in a good position to do that.
A good result will set you up nicely to challenge for the Order of Merit?
Yes, it will. I just need to put myself in good position to contend on Sunday.
SSP Chawrasia of India SSP Chawrasia of India
S.S.P. Chawrasia (Ind)
Could you share your thoughts of playing again Delhi Golf Course and coming back for the Hero Indian Open?
I have very good memories of this course because I have played very well here. I have playing well and hope to carry on doing that.
You have finished second four times in the Hero Indian Open, so how does that affect you?
Honestly, I don’t remember the bad things. I try to remember only the good things and take away the positives from my past experiences over here. So when I start playing tomorrow, I will remember those good things.
Tell us a bit about last year when you went into the final round in lead
Last year I played very well, except the final round. In the final round I did not play well and my putting, which is my strong point, let me down.
Could you talk a bit about your game at the moment?
I am playing very well, though in the last two or three events I didn’t play all that well. But overall, I feel happy about the way I am playing. I have also worked on my putting.
This year also happens to be the Olympic year. So, how important is Olympics for you?
I am pretty excited that golf has been included in the Olympics. It’s very good for the game. I am focusing my game so that I can make it to the Indian team for the Olympics.
So this is a very important week for you, because you can improve on your rankings?
Of Course, this is a very important week. I hope I can seal my place in the Indian team this week. So in that respect I am pretty excited about it. So I will try my best and see what happens.
This golf course has suited your game very well in the past. Could you tell us the reason?
This is a short course, and I am not a very long hitter. So, on this course if you chip and putt well and land the ball straight then you get good results. I try to play safe over here. I don’t use a driver; I use a 3-wood and hybrid. That’s what I try to do every time I go out there.
How do you find the condition of the course?
It’s in very good condition. If you compare it to last year, this time the course is playing really well. The green are in great condition. I have really enjoyed the practice round over here.
Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)
On playing in the Hero Indian Open:
It’s our National Open and I look forward to play here. It is sponsored by Hero Motocorp and Mr. Pawan Munjal is a very good friend of mine. Hero has supported me for a long time, so there is a strong emotional bond.
On playing at the DGC:
I have been playing at the DGC since I was nine years old. Though, I have not won here, I look forward to change that. The key is to manage the course and you got to be positive over here. It’s very easy to get frustrated on this course, but it’s important to quickly put the bad shots behind and do the right things.
On injuries and finding form:
I have hit the rock bottom in the last three years and have had some injuries. For an athlete, getting injured is one of the toughest things. More than the physical aspect of an injury, it’s the mental side that sets you back even more. The shots that you could easily hit, suddenly you find that you can’t hit them anymore. And that can have a devastating effect on an athlete. But as of now I am feeling good and I believe that age is just a number. In fact, with age you get more experience and become more patient.
On finding form last week at True Thailand Classic:
It’s been three years since the Scottish Open (2012) that I have won anything. But last week was a jumpstart at the True Thailand Classic and that has given me a lot of confidence. I have gone through long periods of title drought in the past, so I’m waiting for the cycle to happen once again. I am hoping that the balls will start rolling in again.
On golf being included in 2016 Rio Olympics:
I have grown up in household hearing great stories about the Olympics from my father.  And even now those stories give me goosebumps. Golf being included in the Olympics is one of the best things to happen to the sport and especially for India. I still have three or four months to try to make it to the Indian team. As of now, Anirban (Lahiri) is certain, and SSP (Chawrasia) is in contention for the second spot. If I could make it to the team then it would be the greatest gift I could give to my father.
Peter Uihlein (Usa)
Thoughts playing at the Hero Indian Open?
I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to the challenge.  It is my fourth time to India but my first time playing on this course. I enjoy coming to India, the people are fantastic and I look forward to seeing how challenging the course will be.
What do you think about the course?
It is narrow, that’s the consensus here. It is a bit claustrophobic, there aren’t many places you can miss on the course and get away with it. You can attack the greens and get some decent pars so it will be a good test this week.
You are wearing a wrist aide, any injury concerns?
My wrist has been for a while but this is just precautionary so I don’t do something stupid.
What do you think of the players this week?
I think it is a great field this week. You have the defending champion Anirban (Lahiri) and he is a world class player. Padraig (Harrington) is also here. You have other guys like Fleetwood so the field is balanced and very competitive. It will be an exciting week for sure.
You must feel the win is not far away?
It is always good when you have three top-10s. The confidence is there and I hope to continue riding the momentum hopefully I have another good week.
What’s been the key for you?
Mentally I feel better. I don’t let emotions dictate the decisions I don’t want to make. That cures a lot of problems and I’ve been holing a lot of 15 and 20 footers so these two aspects have really helped me.
Will you keep the driver in the bag?
I will keep it in the bag but it might be just for the survey standpoint. I don’t think my caddy will let me hit a driver here. It is his call this week on what I should do on the course this week.
Ends.