Lahiri eyes Major spot at Philippine Open

Manila: Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Anirban Lahiri will be aiming to fulfil his ambitions of competing in a Major by winning the USD 300,000 ICTSI Philippine Open, the region`s oldest National Open, which starts on Thursday.

The talented Indian, currently ranked 64th on the Official World Golf Ranking, will need a victory at the venerable Wack Wack Golf and Country Club to give himself a chance to break into the top-60 in the world by May 26 to qualify for the US Open in June.

Lahiri will contend for the prestigious title against an elite field which include defending champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore, Angelo Que of the Philippines, a three-time Asian Tour winner and Berry Henson, the 2011 Philippine Open champion.

EurAsia Cup stars Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh will also feature in the event, which returns on the Asian Tour Schedule after a one year hiatus, alongside Filipino veteran Antonio Lascuna, Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei and the immensely talented Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand.

Lahiri made his Major debut at the 2012 British Open where he finished tied 31st highlighted by a magical ace during the third round. He is determined to add another feather in his cap by playing in the year`s second Major tournament.

He is enjoying a hot streak after contributing two points in Team Asia`s draw with Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia in March, and continued his form by winning the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters last month when he eagled the last hole.

"I`ve been on a great run and I feel like I`m on top of my game. My confidence level is high and I`m really excited to be here. I got a great opportunity to get inside the U.S. Open so this week feels like a U.S. Open qualifying for me," smiled the 26-year-old Lahiri.

"When you hit a shot, you don`t think about your goals (qualifying for the U.S. Open). Personally, I`ve been able to take it one shot at a time and you don`t have a choice at Wack Wack because it is very demanding and challenging. I really have to stay focus here," he explained.

Outside the ropes, Lahiri`s personal life is also on the upswing as he prepares for his marriage to long-time girlfriend Ipsa Jamwal at the end of May.

"I`ll be getting married and it is the beginning of my new life. I think it is really an exciting time for me. It helps when your personal life is going well. It puts your mind at ease and it allows you to play your best," Lahiri smiled.

Defending champion Mardan enjoyed a stroll down memory lane after reliving the winning memories from 2012 when he played in the pro-am at the Wack Wack course on Wednesday.

"I remember I made a huge birdie putt on 14 which was the turning point in the event. I was actually looking at the same spot where I holed that putt during the pro-am today," laughed the three-time Asian Tour winner.

"I remember some putts and shots that I made back in 2012 and playing on this golf course brings back all those happy memories. You got to be patient and respect some holes here, especially the popular par-three eighth hole," said Mardan.

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