Lahiri aims to prove a point or two

Fri 02 Oct 2015

Lahiri aims to prove a point or two

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Sentosa, Singapore, October 2: All it took to fire up Anirban Lahiri’s desire to qualify for the Presidents Cup was a chance meeting with International Team Captain Nick Price just over a year ago.
Lahiri, who will become the first Indian to compete at the Presidents Cup in Korea next week, was in Fiji last August at an event which Price also featured. During a practice day, the Zimbabwean golf legend walked up to speak to him which lit Lahiri’s eyes.
“Nick Price ... you know, he’s just an amazing guy,” said Lahiri, the current Asian Tour number one. “I met him last year and I didn’t even know there’s a list to get on the Presidents Cup. I didn’t know what the format was, I didn’t know what the criteria was ... nothing.
“And then I went to play a tournament in Fiji and he was there and he came up to me. He didn’t need to introduce himself obviously but he said that he was looking at how I’ve been playing and he likes what he sees and he would love to have me continue to make progress.
[pullquote align="left or right"]I personally feel that I’m at a place where I don’t really care who I play. All i want to do is make sure that I get a point for the internationals. That’s all I care. - Anirban Lahiri[/pullquote]“And at that point of time, I had only won in Indonesia (CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters). This was before I won in Macau (Venetian Macau Open) last year. So I hadn’t really done much. But for someone like Nick Price to come up to me and say that … it really inspired me.
“My wife (Ipsa) was there in Fiji and said, ‘you know, you’ve got to do this and I’ve got to find a way to get on that team.’”
Following that encounter, Lahiri’s game subsequently caught fire as he won in Macau a couple of months later before going on to finish second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. He then started the 2015 season with a bang, winning the Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open, both co-sanctioned events with the European Tour, in the space of three weeks in February to break into the world’s top-50.
A top-five outing at the PGA Championship in August, where he became India’s best performer in a Major, all but sealed his place Price’s 12-man team who will face the United States at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon next week.
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
When he is introduced by Price as one of the International Team members in the opening ceremony at the Presidents Cup, Lahiri will proudly sit on the same stage as many of the world’s elite including current world number one Jordan Spieth and second-ranked Jason Day.
The world number 39 believes he has done enough to earn his place at the top table following a year which saw him feature in all four Majors and the three World Golf Championships. But the Indian knows the work with coach Vijay Divecha will carry on until he achieves his ultimate goal of winning a Major championship.
“Coming in joint fifth at the PGA Championship, it’s been fantastic. There was so much that I took away from the week. The confidence and self-belief that I gained and earning the respect of the best players in the world ... that’s not easily done,” said Lahiri, who is a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour.
“When you can do that, you want to snowball it and play better consistently. That’s going to be my next effort. You have work on the game and maintain the high level of play. You’re not scared.”
Lahiri has proven to be a good match play competitor. At the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last year, he earned two points out of three matches in Asia’s memorable come-from-behind draw with Europe, who had led 5-0 after day one.
The Indian holed a pressure-packed six-foot putt at the last hole in the second day foursomes to ensure Asia the final point of the day which maintained the team’s momentum going into the final day singles session which Lahiri defeated Frenchman Victor Dubuisson 2&1.
He also defeated a higher-ranked Ryan Palmer 4&2 in his debut at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play earlier this year before losing narrowly on the 19th hole to Justin Rose and 1-up to Marc Leishman, who is also in the International Team.
“The stage is probably a little higher in terms of the profile of the event (Presidents Cup), in terms of the history and everything else that goes with it,” said Lahiri.
“The EurAsia Cup is a fairly new event but it’s done wonders for guys like me who’ve never played that kind of a format. For me to play last year and get that experience is going to play a massive role when I play in the Presidents Cup.
“I think a lot of confidence came from the EurAsia Cup. Just the way we fought back on Saturday and then my singles match on Sunday against Victor who had just lost in the final of WGC-Match Play.
“That gave me a lot of confidence because he was obviously hot on form and full of confidence almost having won the Match Play. And then he played good and I played just a little bit better. And that kind of helped me to believe that if somebody’s on top of his game who’s playing well at a world level, and I can beat him when I’m on top of my game, it tells me that I can compete with these guys who are playing at a world level.
“At the end of the day as a player, if you don’t overwhelm yourself or you make it any different than actually playing in the EurAsia Cup or any matchplay event for that matter, it shouldn’t really matter who you’re playing. And I personally feel that I’m at a place where I don’t really care who I play. All i want to do is make sure that I get a point for the internationals. That’s all I care.”
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include FENIX Golf (Official Apparel Supplier), Fuji Xerox (Official Office Solutions Partner), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Sponsor), Oakley (Official Eyewear and Footwear Sponsor), Srixon (Official Ball), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.