Lahiri and Bhullar confident of strong outing at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf

Wed 21 Nov 2018

Lahiri and Bhullar confident of strong outing at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf

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Melbourne, November 21: Indian hotshots Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar will be looking to turn their friendly rivalry into a formidable partnership when they battle for their country’s honour at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf on Thursday.

Bhullar and Lahiri, who turned professional in 2006 and 2007 respectively, have been spurring each other on with their individual achievements throughout the years. Their successes also served as a motivation for each other to reach greater heights in their careers.

Having known each other since they were 11 years old, the Indian pair, who has won a combined total of 16 titles on the Asian Tour, is confident they can produce the right chemistry and combine effectively for a great showing at The Metropolitan Golf Club.

Lahiri and Bhullar are part of the six two-man Asian teams in the 56-man field hoping to hoist the famous trophy at the US$7 million event, won previously by many legends of the games.

Japan (1957 and 2002) and Chinese Taipei (1972) remain the only two Asian nations to have won the prestigious event since its inception in 1953.

In the 59th staging of the World Cup of Golf this week, the first and third days of competition will be four-ball (best ball) format while the second and final days are foursomes (alternate shot) play.

Did you know?

  • Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar are making their second appearances in the World Cup of Golf this week. Lahiri first partnered Bhullar in the team event which was held at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 2013.
  • Lahiri and Bhullar hold a combined total of 16 victories on the Asian Tour, which includes three co-sanctioned wins on the European Tour.
  • Lahiri, now a regular player on the PGA Tour, is a two-time International team member of the Presidents Cup. He is also the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion in 2015.
  • Lahiri, 31, and Bhullar, 30, have represented India together in numerous team competitions since their amateur days. They featured in the Eisenhower Cup, Nomura Cup and Asian Games, delivering a team silver in 2006, before venturing almost at the same time into the play-for-pay ranks where they also represented Team Asia in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in 2013.
  • Bhullar holds the most number of victories by an Indian player on the Asian Tour after claiming his ninth career triumph at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways in August.
  • For Bhullar, being picked by Lahiri offers him an opportunity for redemption as he finished last in the field in the 2013 edition when the tournament was played under a different format. Players competed individually and both scores contributed towards the team’s score back then.
  • India’s best finish of ninth place in the event was achieved by Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa in Portugal in 2005.

Players’ quotes:

Anirban Lahiri (Ind)

We're both very excited. The last time we were here in Melbourne was five years ago and both of us played as well although it was a different format. I think that's the most exciting matter of being back. Also, playing this golf course, which is amazing. In an event like this, it's important to have the right kind of chemistry.  We've had a lot of team events since our junior days. We've had a lot of success together. It helps because we understand each other's games and we understand each other's strengths. 

More than anything else, it's also about understanding the way each of us think on the golf course. Both of us are aggressive players and we've had more than 23 years of professional playing experience between us, so we're both matured in that sense. We both need to play our best in order to be there in the hunt on Sunday afternoon.  That's the focus for both of us. I think the main thing that we wanted to focus on was the wind.  It's going to be a windy week, it's going to be a cold week, so you want to be able to control the golf ball. I think I'm going to be playing the odds, Gagan's going to be playing the evens.

We have a great opportunity to leave our mark here. Golf is an individual sport and we play for ourselves most of the time. There are only a few opportunities in between where you have the World Cup or you have a Presidents Cup or you have the Olympics.  There's not a lot of events like that. I think playing in Sydney last week has almost no bearing on this week, not for me at least.  Obviously, I wanted to do well in Sydney, but it's nice to get to the venue on the Sunday before and not having to adjust to the new place.  I feel much better, my body feels much better. 

Gaganjeet’s a really positive guy on and off the course.  It's great to be part of this team environment. It's much easier to pick yourself up if you’re down because both of us are going to be egging each other on to play our best. I think the only kind of rivalry you have at 11 years old is who gets to eat the yummier food and, you know, simple things like that.  When we think back to when we were juniors, life was easy; it was all about getting away from school and just having fun. 

But no, I think we've spurred each other on in both our careers.  I mean, Gaganjeet was definitely an exceptional junior and my career kind of picked up a little later once I left school because education was very important to my family as well. It’s always about trying to be the best golfers we can be.  I think that's one common factor between both of us.  We were both very focused with what we want to do with our golf, and we still are. 

It's a great energy to feed off because there's a great commonality.  We both want to push ourselves further and further and get better and better, and I think it's very healthy for both of us, at least I feel that way. I've definitely seen him kind of, when we were kids, he kind of got away from the pack because he got that much better and that pushed me to work hard. I'm sure that it will continue and it's a good healthy cycle.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

This is the first time we're playing in this kind of format.  We played yesterday and the day before. The golf course is in a great shape. We’re still working on our strategy but we are really excited and looking forward to play this format.

The game's pretty good. I have been playing well over the last five to six months. The victory in Fiji actually gave me a lot of confidence.  Now I'm riding high on confidence and really excited to place myself in Europe next year.  As I said, I am feeling very positive this week.

I met Anirban for the first time when we were like 11 years old.  We were in the junior team, we represented India as an amateur, we were together in the 2006 Asian Games and then the World Cup, and roomed so many times together on tour.

Yeah, I guess we know each other really well on and off the golf course, which is really important in this format, especially the format on Friday and Sunday.  It's very important to know your partner and to know each other's game.  I think that factor will definitely help us better.

Golf in India right now is picking up and we need a few guys to go out there on the PGA TOUR, we need more faces on the European Tour. We need guys like Anirban, Shubhankar or myself to win on the PGA TOUR. 

It will be huge for Indian golf because a lot of new golf courses are coming up.  The government of India has actually started planning a lot of initiatives in and around golf, a lot of public golf courses are under development. A good performance here will definitely mean a lot for Indian golfing fans.

Ends.

About the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf

The 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf is a 72-hole, two-man team format, and affords the opportunity for the top players in the game to represent their countries on an international stage. The first and third days of competition are four-ball (best ball) format and the second and final days are foursomes (alternate shot) play. The 2018 event marks the sixth time in the tournament’s history that it has been played in Australia and the third consecutive in the Melbourne Sandbelt region. 

Widely regarded as one of the finest championship courses in Australia, The Metropolitan Golf Club consistently enjoys a reputation as one of the best-conditioned and most beautiful courses in the country. “Metro” has a rich tournament history including seven Men’s Australian Opens, five Australian PGA Championships, one Women’s Australian Open, one Australian Masters and the 2001 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. The 2018 event is set to be contested November 21-25, 2018.

About ISPS HANDA

ISPS, the International Sports Promotion Society, is a charitable organization that promotes sports, such as golf, polo and rowing, in a belief that sports and sporting platforms can help break down barriers, bring people together and create positive change in the lives of people and in society. Carrying the vision of its founder and chairman, Dr Haruhisa Handa, ISPS is also an avid supporter of blind golf. Dr Handa is founder and chairman of the Japan Blind Golf Association and has been dubbed the father of blind golf in Japan. He has supported this effort for three decades and today, continues to serve as Honorary President of the International Blind Golf Association.

Dr Handa also serves as founder and chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, or IFAC, a nonprofit organization established to promote social welfare activities through music and art events. IFAC is title sponsor to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, one of the most celebrated events in the arts calendar in Australia and internationally, which takes place between the end of March and the end of April every year.

About Melbourne

Melbourne is recognised as one of the event capitals of the world. It is the host city to many international events, including the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Australian Open Tennis Championships, the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.

In August, Melbourne was voted the world’s most liveable city for the seventh year running by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual lifestyle survey. The survey ranks all cities according to factors such as healthcare, education, environment and infrastructure.

Melbourne is a thriving cultural capital, home to vibrant gastronomy, fashion and arts scenes.

Melburnians are warm, welcoming and enthusiastic about their city, enjoying a lifestyle that embraces the great outdoors, all things coffee and food, and a vibrant music and arts scene.

About the International Federation of PGA Tour

The International Federation of PGA Tours was formed in 1996 by golf’s five world governing bodies – the European Tour, Japan Golf Tour Organization, PGA TOUR, ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour (South Africa PGA Tour) with the purpose of providing a forum for the world’s professional golf organizations to discuss issues of mutual importance and, together, develop and promote the game of golf on a global basis.  As part of its mission, the Federation initiated the World Golf Championships in 1999.  The Asian Tour joined the International Federation of PGA Tours in November 1999, while the Canadian Tour and the Tour de las Americas joined the Federation as associate members in 2000 and 2007, respectively.

In step with global growth of professional golf, the International Federation of PGA Tours announced an expansion and restructuring of its membership in 2009, adding the International Golf Association and additional professional golf tours, including – for the first time – women’s golf tours: China Golf Association; Korea Professional Golfers’ Association; Professional Golf Tour of India; LPGA Tour; Ladies European Tour; Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour; Japan LPGA; Korean LPGA; and Ladies Asian Golf Tour.