Millennium Post

Lahiri picks tips from past champs, raring to go at Augusta

Lahiri picks tips from past champs, raring to go at Augusta
Anirban Lahiri admits to gaining in confidence by the minute as he is all set to become only the third Indian to tee up at the Augusta Masters, when the curtain goes up on Thursday.

The 27-year-old world no. 34 and the current leader on Asian Tour standings, Lahiri seven Asian Tour titles, including two events co-sanctioned with the European Tour. He has risen dramatically from no. 64 at the end of December 2014 and come to the elite zone of Top-50 where he could play all Majors and WGC events besides a few other ticket events that could catapult him and Indian golf into a different zone.

Saying he feels no burden of expectations that he is representing a country as big as India but instead calls it a motivating factor. He smiles confidently and says, “No, I don’t think the expectations of Indian fans and golf followers is a burden.  I mean, it’s a choice that I have to make. I can either be energized and motivated by it or I can choose to say, you know, people expect me to do this or that, and let that get on top of me.  But I know, the thing is, when you actually meet these people, and I’m saying this because I felt it, when you meet them and you talk to them, and you listen to what they have to say and how they feel, it’s fantastic.  They are so proud.  And how can that make me feel bad?  How is that possible?”

A sizeable number of Indians have followed Lahiri at the course during his practice and his sponsor, Pawan Munjal, a regular at Augusta, will also be here. “I have had the opportunity to see Anirban (Lahiri) from a very early age, in fact from almost the time he turned professional and played the Indian Open, which he finally won this year. But it has been in the past four years or so that he has blossomed into one of the finest golfers in Asia and taken great strides around the world. His twin wins in co-sanctioned events, the Malaysian Open and the Indian Open, have put him alongside the world’s golfing elite in Top-50,” said Munjal, CEO and MD of Hero MotoCorp Ltd whoich is sponsoring Lahiri since the past five years.

“It is always great to have as much support as possible, from friends, sponsors, fans and in time they all become a kind of a family and I am looking forward to it,” added Lahiri, who’s also trying to gain from the experiences of past champions like three-time Masters winner Nick Faldo, now a world-renowned commentators, and Vijay Singh, another former world no. 1 and winner of Masters in 2000. He has also spoken to Jeev Milkha Singh, the first Indian to play at the Masters in 2007 and who played three times in a row till 2009.

Lahiri revealed, “I did pick Jeev’s brains.  He’s been here three times.  We’ve had a couple of discussions earlier when we were playing in events where he was playing, as well.  A lot of good advice.  Even Arjun who has played here before. I had a chance to catch up with Sir Nick Faldo this morning, and he’s one of the greats who has been really well out here.  I had about a 15-, 20-minute chat, well, I didn’t have a chat.  He had a chat with me; I was listening. I also had a chance to play nine holes on the back nine on Monday with Vijay Singh, he’s a past champion as well.”

Lahiri comes to Augusta on the strength of his twin successes in Malaysian Open and Indian Open, which took him to world no. 34. “I think my goals are quite simple.  I just have to go out there and enjoy myself.  It is my first time here, so it is really playing with no expectations honestly. There’s no pressure in terms of, you know, what happens if I don’t finish here or there. It’s the easiest when it is your first time out here, because you are a rookie.  And you can just go out there and have fun. I know if I can play anywhere close to my A-Game, I will be there on Sunday,” Lahiri said.


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