Houston: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri has received a sponsor’s invitation to compete at the Houston Open, which is a boost to his Masters Tournament preparation next month.
The current Asian Tour No.1 who sensationally claimed two victories during a three-week span in Malaysia and India in February, Lahiri hopes to make full use of the opportunity to tee up at the Golf Club of Houston in Texas from April 2 to 5.
Organisers traditionally set up the course here to resemble conditions at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, and Lahiri intends to grasp as much as he can before heading to the year’s opening Major in the following week.
“Thanks to Shell, I’m feeling really happy that I will get a week to acclimatise and prepare for Augusta National. I understand that it’s a great golf course and a similar set-up in Houston. It will be a great opportunity to learn," said the World No.34.
Lahiri will become only the third Indian to feature in the Masters Tournament, following the footsteps of Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal.
Jeev, a double Asian Tour No.1, played at Augusta National on three occasions with a best result of tied 25th achieved in 2008. Atwal, the first Indian to win on PGA Tour, played the Masters in 2011 but missed the halfway cut.
Lahiri said Jeev, Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa, the first Indian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2002, must be credited for inspiring the new generation of golfers to emerge from the sub-continent. He now hopes that his recent success will spur other young golfers back home.
“They have always been inspirational to us. I would never put myself ahead of them. Arjun put it to me five months back. He said, ‘you know, we have done all these things that everyone looks up to. You have the opportunity to do that at 27-28. We did it at 35-36. So you've got that much more time to out-do us and out-do yourself'," said Lahiri.
“That is probably the one thing that I have to take to heart and I have to believe that because I have that time. I'm getting the exposure, getting the opportunities at a much younger age than they did and for me that is the greatest gift, time. That's something that they didn't have as much of as maybe I do."