Kentucky (US): Anirban Lahiri, only the third Indian golfer to appear in two Majors in a single year, will tee off in the company of two PGA Tour winners, Bill Haas and John Senden, as the 96th PGA Championships gets off at the famed Valhalla Golf Club on Thursday.
Lahiri, who fell ill during his campaign at the British Open, also had chicken pox, which cost him a lot of practice time. But on return he got his visa and travel formalities completed and started hitting balls at the range only a week ago.
But he did get into Valhalla well in time to get over jet lag and check out the course, considering how little experience he has had of playing in the US.
"I have got over the jet lag and played the course a few times to get used to it. The course is a Jack Nicklaus course so it is like the courses we are used to playing in Asia but obviously the grasses are totally difficult so it is something which I will need to adjust to."
"I am very excited about playing in an event which has 99 of the top 100 players of the world. It gives you a great feeling and confidence being in that group," he added.
It has been a big year for the 27-year-old Lahiri from Bangalore. He not only won his first Pro title outside India, but he is also the leader on the Asian Tour Money List. At 87th now he was as high as 65th a few weeks ago. He is third among all Asian Tour players. But he aims for the top-50 and a few more good results could see him crack that sooner than later.
Lahiri got a late call-up for the British Open, where he unfortunately missed the cut after falling ill. He missed the cut, but vowed to be back, where on his debut he finished tied 31st and had a hole in one.
Now he is at the PGA Championships for the first time and playing his first full event in the US, the only other appearance for him was the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Stage 1.
Boosting his morale will be his wife, he got married earlier this year, and his coach, Vijay Divecha, who has been helping him hone his skills since his early days.
"It is always nice to have him around. He calms me down and helps focus on golf," said Lahiri, who also added, "With each event the experience adds up and the bigger the event, the better the challenge and learning. Playing with the leading players at various events, in Asia and elsewhere and more recently even practice rounds with the likes of Martin Kaymer, has given me a lot of confidence."