Indian Open: Lahiri ready to defend his title with hope of being a contender in Rio

Anirban Lahiri Asian TourDelhi: Indian star Anirban Lahiri believes he has the winning formula to produce a repeat victory at the US$1.66 million Hero Indian Open which gets underway on Thursday.

Lahiri, the reigning Asian Tour number one, will defend his title without a driver when he tees up at the Delhi Golf Club, a venue which is known for its super-tight fairways.

The popular Indian will headline the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour alongside three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Peter Uihlein of the United States, who has three top-10 results in his last three events, and current Order of Merit leader Marcus Fraser of Australia.

An in-form Scott Hend of Australia, who won in Thailand last week, Filipino rising star Miguel Tabuena, India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, a four-time runner-up at the Indian Open and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, the 2013 Hero Indian Open winner, will also feature in the event.

After claiming a popular victory at the Hero Indian Open last year, Lahiri will stick to the same routine at the tricky course.

“Over the years if you have a strategy at Delhi Golf Club, you don’t mess with it. It is hard enough playing here so you stick with it. I won’t reinvent a new strategy because my plan works. I just need to execute it better and more efficiently,” said the 28-year-old.

“This is one of the events where you want to keep coming back and defending over your lifetime. It is a good feeling to have and you know that it can be done. The whole exercise is to put yourself in the position again come Sunday,” added Lahiri.

Ranked 52nd in the world, Lahiri has laid out his plans for 2016 and a victory this week will give him an extra boost in confidence to achieve his goals.

“The target will be to win on the PGA Tour, be in contention in the Majors and World Golf Championships (WGC). Obviously the Olympics as well. The targets remain the same. You push yourself until you reach a level where you target the Majors, WGCs and Olympics.

“I’m certainly hopeful of being a contender at the Olympic Games. I have been playing well and I can compete at that level. Do I have medal hopes? Yes I do. I definitely think I can contend and hopefully get a medal for India,” said Lahiri.

Talented Filipino Tabuena, ranked second on the Order of Merit, aims to follow in the footsteps of Lahiri, who won the Hero Indian Open last year before becoming the Asian Tour’s number one golfer.

“It is not a stressful week knowing you have secured your card for next year. The main goal this year is to play in the Olympics and contend for the number one spot on the Asian Tour. I’ve put myself in a good position to do that,” said the 20-year-old Tabuena.