Shanghai: India’s Anirban Lahiri is confident he will stand tall among the giants when he tees off at the WGC-HSBC Champions which begins at the Sheshan International Golf Club on Thursday.
The US$8.5million Chinese showpiece which is also the final World Golf Championships event of the year will feature 40 of the top 50 players in the world including Australia’s Adam Scott, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, England’s Justin Rose as well as Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson of the United States.
However, the 27-year-old Indian, ranked 73rd in the world, does not believe it will be a David vs. Goliath contest and is ready to put up a performance befitting of his status of an Asian heavyweight.
“Obviously I've looked up to a lot of these guys but I think over the last two or three years, I played more and more with some of the world's best players and I've beaten a lot of them in many of the events.
So I definitely have the confidence and the game to compete with them. I’m here this week and nothing would give me more pleasure than to beat most of them,” said Lahiri.
Lahiri’s confidence further stems from the growing testimonials he has received from the world’s leading players including Major winner and Asian Tour honorary member Ernie Els, who is also part of the elite field this week
“I played with Ernie last year in Chiangmai and we've met a few times, and he's always saying a lot of good things to me.
I’ve also played with a bunch of PGA TOUR guys and everybody looks to me and says, "What are you doing here? Why aren't you playing with us in America? You've got the game. You've got the ability."
So it's not one but a number of players who have encouraged me and given me lots of confidence. It comes down to executing them in events like this and I'm really eager to do that,” said Lahiri, who will have the company of American J B Holmes and Scotland’s Marc Warren for his opening two rounds.
Lahiri, a five-time Asian Tour winner, has already enjoyed two wins in Indonesia and Macau this year along with five top-10s to take second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, which is expected to go down the wire this season.
“One of the goals would be to win the Order of Merit as it comes with lots of incentive. I've got another three or four events on the Asian Tour that count and I’m going to try to threaten David (Lipsky) for that number one spot,” said Lahiri.
The leading four available players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit including Lipsky and Jason Knutzon of the United States, Filipino Antonio Lascuna and Lahiri will feature at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China which is the only country outside the United States to currently be hosting a one of the four prestigious World Golf Championship events.
Merit winners, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand along with China’s Liang Wen-chong are also expected to spearhead the Asian challenge.