St Andrews (Scotland): India's Anirban Lahiri may be playing at the Old Course at St Andrews for the first time in his career, but he is not allowing the stage, the atmosphere and the history of the place to intimidate him.
Having played two Open Championships before this one -- he even had a hole-in-one on his debut in 2012 at Muirfield -? besides once each at the Augusta National, US Open and the PGA, Lahiri has a certain assuredness about him while getting ready for the big stage.
Leading the Asian Tour Order of Merit by a handy margin and still in the Top-15 of the European Order of Merit, Lahiri, who has two wins this season at the Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open, wears a settled and calm look.
He has his entire support team with him here -- his immediately family including parents and wife, Ipsa, his coach Vijay Divecha and his regular caddie Rajiv, who has flown in from Delhi for this week and the rest of the season.
Divecha has been his coach since childhood and he not only understands Lahiri's game, but also his mental make-up and approach.
"Anirban is improving with each tournament, each day. He is a good learner and sees every round as a learning experience," Divecha feels.
Lahiri is getting Divecha to iron out glitches here and there to suit the Old Course.
"This is my first time in St Andrews and I already like how the course sets itself up. It's nice to be here and you want to be here as often as you can," said Lahiri.
Speaking of the course and strategy, Lahiri said: "Here you have to hit to the left, anything on the right can be a problem. That suits my game because I tend to hit to the left more. You have to favour the left side for most of the tee shots, which is my natural shot shape. There are a few scoring holes out there and you got to get through the first few holes strongly. I've more or less got my strategy in place."
Another thing, which has helped Lahiri settle down better here is the presence of
Rajiv, his caddie.
"I've got Rajiv back on my bag. In fact he has been on the bag for each of my seven wins, including the last one at the Hero Indian Open. He'll be starting this week through the end of the year. So he's going to be bringing lots of positivity to my game. We work together very well especially in the mental aspect. He understands how I think and operates. He knows how to bring out the best in me. That's why he's back," Lahiri said.
Speaking of his recent runs, Lahiri said: "I had my good and bad runs. Having said that, my golf has not been bad but it has been littered with a lot of casual mistakes. That has cost me dearly at times."
Lahiri is happy with his draw as he plays the first two rounds with South Africa's
George Coetzee and Spain's Rafa Cabrera-bello.
"I know the guys and I am comfortable with them. They have good runs recently," the Indian golfer said.
"It'll depend on how the winds play out. (Louis) Oosthuizen proved in 2010 that it's important to have a little favour from the wind gods and hopefully it works out for me as well."
A total of nine Asian Tour players are in the field and they are Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Liang Wen-chong, Jonathan Moore, Scott Hend, David Lipsky, Marcus Fraser and Rikard Karlberg, who got in only last week as one of the qualifiers from the Scottish Open.