Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri, dubbed the ‘funny man’ in the International Team, hopes to enjoy the last laugh with his teammates by wresting the Presidents Cup from the United States this week.
Lahiri, the current Asian Tour No.1, will partner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand to face American duo Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker in the third Foursome match at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club when the biennial team contest begins on Thursday.
“He brings a great sense of humour to the team. A lot of guys didn’t realise how funny he is but he has a really good sense of humour and he’s just so keen to get out there and play,” said International captain Nick Price.
Vice-captain K.J. Choi chipped in saying: “He is a funny guy. He’s good for the team. He hits it very long and is very aggressive. He’ll be very good this week.”
The 28-year-old Lahiri has certainly enjoyed the first three days of bonding and bantering with teammates such as Jason Day, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen, all Major winners. But he is ready to get all serious when business begins on Thursday.
“Well, at least someone thinks I’m funny. It’s nice to keep the mood light. Just relax a little bit because once we go out there all of us are just focused on making sure that the Presidents Cup, now that it’s come to Asia, stays in Asia and stays with the Internationals,” smiled the debutant, one of five rookies in Price’s team.
“It’s a very focused mood. At the same time it’s quite lively and humorous, so it’s a good mix,” added the Indian, who is the first from his country to play in the Presidents Cup.
He can’t wait to team up with fellow debutant and in-form Thongchai, who at 45 is the oldest player here, to face Fowler and Walker.
“Definitely believe that I belong here and it will be good evidence if I can put up a good few points for my team. It was quite natural for Thongchai and me to be teamed up. I can’t ask for a better partner. He’s one of the most consistent golfers out there,” said Lahiri.
“Even in a stellar line-up like we have, he’s probably one of the most consistent. Jimmy’s a good friend and Rickie is a great player. Everyone out here can play golf but tomorrow we’re looking to get the job done.”
With the Americans, led by World No.1 Jordan Spieth, winning eight of the 10 editions of the Presidents Cup, including the last five, Lahiri believes the International Team has done all things possible to turn the tide, including watching highlights of 1998 – the only time the Internationals won.
“The way all of us are playing, we are all pretty confident. It’s just about gelling tomorrow, and so far we’ve bonded really well,” said Lahiri.
Lahiri thinks the rookies, which includes Korean Sangmoon Bae, Danny Lee of New Zealand and Australian Steven Bowditch, can provide the sparks for the International Team to rise to the occasion.
“We’re all young and we’re all fearless. We haven’t experienced the low yet when it comes to the Presidents Cup and that’s going to work to our favour, whether it’s Danny or Sangmoon. Everything is focused towards going out there and playing our best and just doing whatever it takes to hold that Cup on Sunday. All of us are dedicated to this. The passion is showing among all of us,” said the Indian.
Anirban Lahiri becomes the third Indian after Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh to hold a PGA Tour card.