Kuala Lumpur: India’s Anirban Lahiri expects Asia to continue to breed new stars in the years to come, saying the region’s golfers have benefited immensely through the success of the Asian Tour.
The talented Lahiri will be amongst the top stars from the Asian Tour who will feature in the US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open which starts at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
Following Team Asia’s memorable fight back to draw with Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia two weeks ago, the 26-year-old Lahiri is still overflowing with joy from the experience.
“Two weeks back was one of the best weeks for me in a long, long time. A lot of positive memories and good recollections from the EurAsia Cup. (But) I have to put it behind me, it’s in the past. It gave me a lot of confidence, beating some of the top players in the world,” said Lahiri.
The three-time Asian Tour winner, who finished third on the Order of Merit last season, is eyeing a major title in the region and believes the Asian Tour has helped provide the foundation for his career. He also believes the region’s premier Tour will continue to unearth new talents.
“Asia is already the breeding ground and playing ground for a lot of the stars of the future,” said Lahiri.
“The Asian Tour is on its way to getting to a stage where it becomes a name in itself. Right now, it’s a fantastic place to play. In terms of opportunity, I’d put it behind the PGA Tour and European Tour. It’s a fantastic Tour the way that it is going.”
He believes the successful launch of the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-Hicom could potentially lead to many more sponsors investing in the game across the region with the Asian Tour.
“We’re still a young Tour ... we’re not as matured as America or Europe. But we have enough credibility, good players and quality to have such (big) events as the EurAsia Cup proved two weeks back.
“It’s going to serve as a motivating factor for more events like this to come up,” he said.
With a successful co-sanction programme with the European Tour which dates back to the 1999 Malaysian Open, Lahiri believes the Asian Tour stars can continue to perform well at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s West Course.
In the past 10 years, six Asian Tour members – Thongchai Jaidee, Charlie Wi, Arjun Atwal, Noh Seung-yul, Anthony Kang and Kiradech – have won the Malaysian Open.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to beat some of these guys and make our mark. Personally, I’ve played in some really strong fields, I’ve played in a Major and I know what is the level of golf that I have to play my ‘A’ game to beat these guys,” said Lahiri.
“I know that I can beat these guys. If I can focus on what I can do, it doesn’t matter what the field is. Coming into this week, I feel really good. I feel my game is in a good place. Mentally, I’m in a much more positive frame of mind than the last few times I’ve come to this golf course,” he said.