Anirban aims to defend title at season-opening SAIL-SBI Open

PTI| Updated: Feb 25, 2014, 15:17 PM IST

New Delhi: Two-time defending champion Anirban Lahiri would be eyeing a hat-trick at the Asian Tour`s season-opening USD 300,000 SAIL-SBI Open which will tee off at the prestigious Delhi Golf Club from Wednesday.

The 26-year-old golfer, who beat Thailand`s Prom Meesawat and compatriot Rashid Khan in play-offs in 2012 and 2013 respectively, will have to compete against a stellar field, including former Order of Merit champions Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand.

The Indian challenge will be strengthened by the presence of former Asian Tour winners SSP Chowrasia, Digvijay Singh, Rahil Gangjee, Jyoti Randhawa and Himmat Singh Rai. Rashid Khan, the 2013 SAIL-SBI Open runner-up and reigning Rolex Rankings champion on the PGTI, will once again be a force to reckon with on his home course.

"I had a good couple of season in the last two years because I had a good start to the season. It is important factor for success. This is the only year that I have played a lot of golf before SAIL open, so in a way I am match fit," Lahiri told reporters. "This is my sixth SAIL open and I have played in DGC. Despite the recent rains and winter, DGC is still in good shape and I have managed to find a strategy here and I would look to do the same this year and I hope to be win the title for the third time," added Lahiri, who finished third on the Merit list last season.

The field also includes EurAsia Cup teammates Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh and Malaysia`s Nicholas Fung, the 2013 Asian Development Tour No.1. Other leading golfers include Thailand`s Prayad Marksaeng, winner of the season-ending King`s Cup Golf Hua Hin in January, countrymen Prom Meesawat, Chawalit Plalphol, Chapchai Nirat and Arnond Vongvanij, Filipino Angelo Que, Korea`s Kim Gi-whan and American Berry Henson.

Himmat said, "We always look forward to DGC. It is so unique and its variation always offer something new in it. The golf course is in good shape and there would be plenty of scoring opportunities and I hope I can club together four rounds of exciting golf."

Talking about the golf course, Lahiri said, "I played nine holes. It is playing good. I came here a couple of weeks. It is difficult for a golf course to recover from winter and there were rains. They are little faster but they will improve if it gets some sunshine."

Lahiri enjoyed four other top-10s and a successful Major debut at the British Open where he finished tied 31st. The Indian had a magical ace during the third round. Last year, he finished second at Worldwide Selangor Masters, Venetian Macau Open and Indian Open