Indian golfer Lahiri ready for Open challenge
Anirban Lahiri of India hits a shot on the ninth tee during the opening round of the Maybank Malaysian Open golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur on April 17, 2014 - by Manan Vatsyayana
The current Asian Tour number one earned a starting place at Royal Liverpool Golf Club as one of 10 non-exempt players from the Official World Golf Ranking last week.
News of his late entry into the year's third major tournament caught Lahiri by complete surprise as he was still on his honeymoon in Madagascar.
After making hurried plans to get home which took some 36 hours of travel door to door, the 27-year-old told the Asian Tour he has kept himself busy by trying to get his game back into groove with his coach Vijay Divecha.
“I’ve been practising hard .... just trying to get back into the groove,” said Lahiri, who finished tied 31st at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2012.
“It was a great surprise that I’ve got into my second Open next week. I thought the qualifying cut off was sometime in May and when I checked the Open website, they only had the regular categories available and I assumed I had missed the chance as I wasn’t in the field for any of the qualifying events.
“That was why I had scheduled to get some time off. My wife has taken it well although her honeymoon is truncated.
"But she understands the situation, being the wife of a professional golfer. She’s been very supportive and I promised to take her back to Madagascar.”
Under the watchful eyes of coach Divecha, Lahiri has been working hard on pulling off the shots required for links golf, but knows he must possess a strong state of mind ahead of his major quest.
“I’m looking forward to a new course and a new challenge. In the two years since my first Open appearance, I believe I have progressed as a player and I feel I am going back to the Open as a more rounded player than the last time.
“We’ve been working on reducing the spin rate on the ball and hitting low shots. I’m trying to get the rhythm and tempo going again and also working on the mental aspect.
A return to the British Open is just reward for Lahiri, who is enjoying a great run in 2014.
He has shot to the top of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit with one victory and three other top-10s and also played a big role in Asia’s draw with Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia where he contributed two points.
At 85th in the world rankings, Lahiri is determined to break into the top-50 which will give him access into the World Golf Championships and the majors.