Shanghai: A rising star looking for opportunities till not so long back, Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is now aiming to translate those chances into better finishes at the highest level and all that this metamorphosis has taken is a mere 12 months.
The 28-year-old World No. 39, who has already won twice this calendar year on co-sanctioned events in Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open, is now into the 'elite' zone having played at each of the last four Majors and World Golf Championships, besides an appearance at the Presidents Cup and a fifth place at the PGA Championships.
The WGC-HSBC Champions will feature close to 40 of the world's top 50 players including world number two Jordan Spieth, world number three Rory McIlroy, and fellow top 10 stars Rickie Fowler (5) and Henrik Stenson (7) as well as defending champion Bubba Watson (4).
Having almost sealed his Asian Tour Order of Merit, Lahiri admits the change in focus and it is for the better.
"Obviously my focus has changed over the last few years.
Last year when I was here, it was very important for me to play well in this event because it was one of my first WGCs, and I was playing here for the first time," Lahiri said.
"I've come back 12 months later having played every other WGC, won twice, got my card in America, and suddenly this event becomes critical for me in terms of how I reshuffle my schedule for America and my world rankings going into the end of the year," he added.
The other Indian in the field, SSP Chawrasia, who narrowly missed keeping his European Tour card, is also in the field by virtue of being fourth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
"Anirban has been fantastic over this last year and it has brought focus onto Indian and Asian golf. We are all getting motivated by what he has achieved and what he is likely to achieve more," said Chawrasia.
"Yes it is a big opportunity for me to play with the best in the world and I know if I can play to my potential I can do well."
Chawrasia finished 113th on European Tour's Race to Dubai.
Lahiri finished tied 28th at the WGC-HSBC Champions last year but with the merit title almost in his hands, he is channelling his energy towards producing another fine showing -- one that reinforces his status as one of Asia's best players.
"I'm really happy with the position I'm in. Having finished third and second the last two years, it would be great to get over the line (for the Order of Merit).
"It looks likely right now but it would be a wonderful thing when and if that happens. I'm feeling positive and mentally there's no lack of motivation as there's a lot to play for," said Lahiri.