Bhullar, Lahiri eye strong start to season

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2013, 14:39 PM IST

New Delhi: India`s rising stars Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri will be targeting a home victory when they make their 2013 Asian Tour debuts at the USD 300,000 SAIL-SBI Open golf tournament next week.

The talented duo enjoyed memorable seasons last year with Bhullar securing two victories at the Macau Open and Tournament Players Championship in Taipei en route to finishing a career-high fifth on the Order of Merit while Lahiri won the SAIL-SBI Open and also produced an outstanding Major debut at the British Open where he tied for 31st place.

Lahiri, 25, hopes that time spent working on his putting and short game will produce the birdies when he defends his title at the venerable Delhi Golf Club March 6-9 in what is the second tournament of the new Asian Tour season.

"I have had a good relaxing off-season. I worked especially hard on my putting and short game. I feel that it will help improve my scoring this season and get me into contention more consistently," said Lahiri, who defeated Prom Meesawat of Thailand in a play-off for his triumph last year.

Lahiri is in a hurry to get his season off on a strong note as he is aiming to break into the world`s top-100.

"I would definitely want to get off to a good start with a win early in the season, like the last couple of years. I think as the Olympics approaches, all eyes will be on the world rankings. The Indians are doing well globally so I would definitely like to break into the top 100. I`ll then look to kick on from there. Obviously it would mean playing solidly in the bigger events," added Lahiri, who is currently ranked 224th in the world.

Big-hitting Bhullar, 24, has already accumulated four career victories on the Asian Tour. He finished tied sixth in the SAIL-SBI Open and equal second in the Panasonic Open India last year at the Delhi Golf Club, results which will give him the confidence. Bhullar hopes last season`s success will be the springboard to more victories in 2013.

"It was a great season. I had a couple of top-10s, top-fives and two victories. There is still a lot to learn but I have a lot of positives from last season. I`ve been trying to stay patient for a long time and I think I handled it well. Patience will definitely help me over the years," he said.

The SAIL-SBI Open will be celebrating its sixth edition next week where it is one of four Asian Tour events which feature prominently in India. Other leading Indians who will compete in the SAIL-SBI Open include C. Muniyappa, Himmat Rai, Digvijay Singh, Shiv Kapur and Jyoti Randhawa, all winners on the Asian Tour.