India’s Anirban Lahiri ready to renew love affair with The Open

Anirban Lahiri OpenTroon, Scotland: India’s Anirban Lahiri is hoping his love for links golf will lead to a strong showing at The Open which begins at Royal Troon on Thursday.

The reigning Asian Tour number one, who is making his fourth appearance in the world’s oldest championship, is eager to improve on a career best tied fifth outing in a major tournament achieved at the PGA Championship last season.

“The Open has always been good to me, so I’m hoping for a good run,” said Lahiri, who made a hole-in-one in his debut at Royal Lytham in 2012 and was tied 30th at St Andrews last year.

“I’m feeling positive about my game and the golf course sets up for me. I like the way the holes shape away and it’s something that suits my eye.”

After a spectacular 2015 season where he won twice in Asia, made his Presidents Cup debut, earned his PGA Tour card and broke into the world’s top-50, Lahiri’s 2016 campaign has been rather muted with only two top-10s thus far, one in Asia and the other in the United States.

He conceded that competing in his rookie PGA Tour season has been challenging as he faces a new golf course almost every week. Hence, a return to a links setup in Scotland has provided him with a fresh confidence booster.

“I prefer playing links courses to parkland courses probably because we don’t play enough of it and also because you have to be more creative as it’s less sterile. You have to control your ball flight, up and down and sideways and you have to have a lot more feel,” said Lahiri.

“We play most of the times in benign conditions and greens are soft and we are throwing darts and it’s more of a putting competition (in the US). Out here, it tests every department of your game and that’s what makes links golf very special.

“The best think about links golf is that it’s not about the power game. I’ve played some of my best golf over the last few years on courses where it’s strategy and precision over power. Even my best finish in America this year at the Colonial was on one of the shortest and tightest courses, something like the Delhi Golf Club. It adds to the comfort level.”

In preparation for his week, the world number 62 has thrown in a two iron in his golf bag place of his five wood and left out a gap wedge in preference of a blade four iron in hope of tackling the winds that is so often associated with The Open.

“On a course like this, you need a lot of long irons off the tee, so it’s a completely different makeup,” he said.

This week’s Open championship will mark the start of an exciting run of big tournaments for Lahiri which includes the PGA Championship in a fortnight and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where he has qualified with SSP Chawrasia.

“I’m super excited about the Olympics. It’s fantastic. The last couple of years have flown by and we’re a few weeks out of Rio. It’ll be a very proud moment for me. SSP and I will be there for the opening ceremony and we’ll be with the rest of the Indian contingent marching out there and you can’t buy that experience. There’s nothing that compares to that feeling. You’re part of something that is bigger than yourself,” said Lahiri.

“The goal obviously will be to get there and try to get a medal, or two, if both S.S.P. and I can play well. That should have a big impact on golf in India and Asia. Guys like Kiradech (Aphirbarnrat), Thongchai (Jaidee) and (Jeunghun) Wang will be there and it’s going to make a big difference.”