Anirban Lahiri ready for Open after overcoming off-course hurdles
Hoylake, UK: Two years ago after he had the Royal Lytham and St Annes abuzz with a stunning hole-in-one, ace Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is back at the Open for a second start.
The 27-year-old, who has won four Asian Tour titles and leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit, got a late exemption forcing a change in his plans, including cutting short his honeymoon.
After losing an old passport with a valid visa, money and a bag and then getting delayed due to flights, Lahiri is finally at Hoylake to begin his second campaign at the oldest of the four Majors, starting on Thursday.
"It is always great to say I am playing the Open. That`s the Major we knew most about," says Lahiri.
Also, because of the time difference, Indians see the British Open more often on TV than the other three Majors in the United States.
Lahiri arrived here in Hoylake on Saturday and immediately got down to business, putting in three practice rounds in three days.
"I played 18 on Sunday, 16 on Monday and a bit on Tuesday," said Lahiri, who is trying to shake off the effects of tiredness caused by off-course anxieties of late.
"Honestly, I have had more problems off the course than on course," he said with a laugh, adding "but now I am focused."
"I`m really enjoying being here, it`s a lot of fun. I love playing links golf. I think it suits my game as I`m a lot of hands and feel and not so mechanical," Lahiri said.
"Out here (at Links), you have to commit to every shot. In the practice rounds so far, it`s been about figuring out which shot I want to hit and committing to it. A few times previously, I wasn`t sure and hit shots which have been destructive," he added.
"I have played in two different kinds of winds over the past two days which is very important On one hole, I hit driver and three iron and today I hit three iron and pitching wedge," said Lahiri.
"Royal Liverpool is different than Lytham. There are not as many fairway bunkers but you have tight spots and there are internal out of bounds which is a bit strange. If you?re like five yards off the fringe, you could be out of bounds."
He is getting back into his rhythm and is readying himself for an early start on Thursday, when he goes out with Koumei Oda of Japan, who was his teammate at EurAsia Cup in March, and Ben Martin of the US, who is making his debut at the Open courtesy, his third place finish at Quicken Loans on the PGA Tour.
Lahiri was happy with the acclimatization.
"The body is feeling okay. I`ve started to calm down as the mind has been hyperactive with everything that has gone on. I had a good four days with my coach back home before coming in and he said there`s nothing wrong with the game and that I`ve done it before and told me to calm down. The more I can relax, the better I can play," said the Indian.
But no sooner is he done with the Open, Lahiri will fly back to Delhi to get his fresh US Visa and then fly to US for the PGA Championship.
And if he does well at these two Majors and carries on the good, a whole new world will open up for him as he tries to move up from his current ranking of 81st in the world.