Back in 2012, The Open in Britain was his first Major, and now ace Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri, a regular on the circuit, is back for another crack at the only Major, outside of the United States.
“The Open is one event, which will always be close to my heart. I love being here again and again. Of course we all love to be at every Major, but for all players there is always one or two which are favourites and the Open is one of them for me,” said Lahiri.
Lahiri, whose best this year has been a second place at the Hero Indian Open which is a part of the European and Asian Tours, is due to play the first two rounds with Sergio Garcia, still searching for his maiden Major in an illustrious career, while the third player will be Keegan Bradley from the US, a past Major winner.
“Having played some links golf over the years helps because you know what the conditions will demand from you. Still, its very windy out here and accuracy will be the key. The main idea of links golf is avoiding trouble more than anything else. It’s a great challenge. You have to be very creative, flight it in a different way – high or low and so on. It’s different kind of golf from what we have grown up playing,” Lahiri said.
“The Troon is great. But every golf is different. It is very challenging as far as I could see over the holes I have played so far. There are a couple of blind holes, a few in front are narrow and winding and the 11th has a very intimidating tee shot. I am keeping mental pictures and trying to get an idea of where you need to leave the ball. You have to trust yourself,” he added.
Lahiri, whose upcoming stretch includes two Majors and an Olympic appearance, is keen to hit top form ahead of the year’s third Major at the famous Scottish links from July 14 to 17.
The PGA Championship in Baltusrol two weeks later and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in mid-August follow the Open.
The 29-year-old Lahiri is making his fourth appearance at The Open where he enjoyed a tied 31st outing in his debut in 2012, which included a magical hole-in-one during the third round and equal 30th last year.
“The Open is truly a special tournament,” said Lahiri.
“I’ve had a couple of decent outings but feel like I missed out both times on a top-10 finish. Hopefully Troon suits my eye and I can play consistently throughout the week. A top-10 or better would be my goal this year.”
From the time he holed out his tee shot for the ace in 2012 and celebrated exuberantly with caddie and father who was watching from the galleries, Lahiri has cherished the challenge of links golf, which he hopes will spark his return to top form.
Playing his rookie season on the PGA Tour in the United States, Lahiri has missed only four cuts from 17 starts, but has only registered one top-10 finish to his name. Competing on a new golf course every week has been his biggest challenge.
“It’s been a very slow and sluggish season. I have been inconsistent and have got off to good starts on a few occasions only to have a disappointing weekends. It’s frustrating when your ‘A’ game feels right around the corner but does not show up as frequently as you would like,” he said.
Lahiri is also hoping to shine again at the PGA Championships where he announced his arrival on the global stage with an impressive top-five finish last year. With a crowded schedule, Lahiri will place importance in keeping his energy levels at a sustainable pace.
“My coach was in America for two weeks to work on all aspects of the game and sharpen it up for the Majors and the Olympics. Hopefully I can pace myself just right to peak during the Majors and Olympics. That’s the goal,” he said.
“There can be no greater joy than hearing your name as ‘the Champion Golfer of the Year!’ added the Indian.