I'm shocked, this is what dreams are made of: Anirban Lahiri
Anirban Lahiri clinched the Hero Indian Open title -- his second European Tour title in two weeks -- despite dropping as many as 17 shots in the last four days and the Indian golfer said he was "shocked" following his dream victory.
New Delhi: Anirban Lahiri clinched the Hero Indian Open title -- his second European Tour title in two weeks -- despite dropping as many as 17 shots in the last four days and the Indian golfer said he was "shocked" following his dream victory.
Lahiri's win came after enduring his toughest day at the Delhi Club Club here on Sunday.
"I'm shocked. I really didn't think that I will be in this position considering the way SSP (Chowrasia) and Siddikur (Rahman) have been playing. I thought all of us were playing for third," he told reporters after winning the play-off with a 15-foot birdie putt against overnight leader SSP Chowrasia on a dramatic day.
"This is the toughest I've seen Delhi Golf Club play. It was very windy and it was not the usual wind when we come here. That's the only reason why I had a chance today.
"At the start of the week, I knew that if I put in a good performance it would pretty much secure my place in The Masters. I didn't think I would win after the last three days of golf. It is fantastic. Now the whole world is opened to me.
I'm really excited. This is what dreams are made of," added Lahiri, who had begun the fourth day seven strokes behind the leader.
The 27-year-old from Bangalore became just the eighth Indian to win the tournament since the event was first played in 1964.
Lahiri said: "I didn't know what was going on until I reached the ninth green. I was walking up and my caddy said we have a chance. I asked him what is he talking about and he replied that SSP is having a bad round. That's when I looked at the leaderboard and I was one shot behind."
This is the fourth time that Lahiri has won an event at the Delhi Golf Club in a play-off. The previous three were the 2011 Panasonic Open India, 2012 and 2013 SAIL SBI Open.
Asked if he was comfortable with the play-off, Lahiri said: "I thought that Marcus Fraser holed that 15-footer for birdie (on 18th hole). I wasn't aware that it was for par. In my head I was getting ready for a three-way play-off. I was definitely quite comfortable.
"I've been in a play-off four times here and I've won every other time so I felt quite comfortable," added the Indian, who moved to 687,043 points in The Race to Dubai and could move to just outside 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking, from 39th.
Talking about the course, Lahiri said: "The 12, 13 and 14 were the three toughest holes. I bogeyed 14 and dropped to six-under. I was talking to my caddy that if we get up to eight, we would have a chance. In my mind I was trying to make birdies in the last four holes but it was more difficult than I had imagined."
Asked about the 17th hole, where he produced a magical chip-in par to keep himself in the race, Lahiri said: "I think Mardan Mamat had a similar shot on 17 in 2011. He had hit it right just like I did today but I was lucky it didn't go into the bush. He wasn't too fortunate in 2011.
"That chip-in was crucial. I didn't want to come down 18, needing to eagle it. Even when I played 18 in regulation play, I thought I needed to birdie it. That chip-in was easily the shot of the day. It was magical when it went in.
"If I have to pick a moment, I would say 17 but making birdie on 16 was clutch. When the conditions are like these, every par is like gold."
Asked about his aspirations for the President's Cup, Lahiri said: "I still have to play well. The Presidents Cup is still a long way to go. I'm definitely going to have an eye on that. The cut off is in September and I don't think we have any Indian has played in that event before."
The Presidents Cup is a series of men's golf matches between a team representing the United States and an International Team representing the rest of the world minus Europe.
Lahiri also had a word of comfort for Chowrasia, who finished runners-up at the Indian Open for the fourth time now.
"My heart goes out for SSP and I really hope that he gets his European Tour card this year. I really feel for Chowrasia because I was talking to him and he was really disappointed.
This is his fourth time finishing second in the Indian Open and that's a terrible feeling!," said Lahiri.
"I really feel for him but he is playing well and I really wish that he gets his European Tour card. He is going to South Africa next week and I hope that he continues to play the way he is playing."
Left disappointed after a final round 76 spoilt his hopes of winning the title, Chowrasia said: "I am happy with how I performed this week, it's been a great week and I played well for three day and had some bad shots in the final round but it's ok.
"The problem today was the wind. It was gusting a lot and made it very difficult. I am proud of myself for hanging in there to make the play-off and there is always a next time.
"Anirban is a great friend and he played well to win the play-off. I am playing well and hopefully it continues like this."