Talking about the future of golf, India’s Anirban Lahiri, who is part of the President’s Cup, said that it looked bright as Golf was definitely going to be one of the major sports globally in the years to come.
“It already is, but I think in terms of viewership, people getting attracted to the sport, that's going to grow. I think Tokyo is going to be fantastic. Rio was great but Japan is a huge golf-loving nation. Golf is like a religion. I think it's only second after baseball in Japan,” said Lahjiri.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Just the feeling that you have been through, going back to 2015, and knowing you got on this team by being a pick and now being here and knowing, even though you're not teeing it up tomorrow?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Fantastic. I think our team is really up for this. We are all playing good. We have got a very interesting lineup tomorrow.
For me, I'm just waiting, when my opportunity comes, to go out there and be ready. It's a fantastic week, super excited.
Q. Guys say you're great in the team room. What do you think makes you so good in the team room?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I don't think, I think you should be asking my teammates that. I think for me, I've always been a good team player. Even though golf is not a team sport, I grew up playing a bunch of team sports. I grew up playing soccer and cricket in school. I just get on really well with the guys in the team. I think we've got a really good bunch of guys, as well. It's very easy to be friends, and obviously we feel each other's pain, and we all want this for each other. So it's really quite easy to be part of this team.
Q. What did you learn from the last time that you can bring to this team?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think just understanding what to expect from the opposition, from the Americans, from the event. You know, what are the pressures that you're going to feel when you go out there, and also how to manage expectations, your own expectations. You want to being out there and you want to birdie every hole, or you want to play the golf of your life.
But a lot of times, you know, you've got to just manage at best with what you have that day. At the end of the day, you just have to win the hole, whether it's with a 2 or I 7, it doesn't matter. For me, Korea was a very big learning curve, and it's just much much easier for me to go into this event having had that experience before.
Q. And you're going to have to be a cheerleader for the first round tomorrow. Is there any particular match you're looking at?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think we are all playing late, so I'm looking to come out early and get through my work early in the day. I'll probably go out and support probably the rookies. We'll go out and guest behind Emi and Si-Woo. They are going to need that encouragement. Golf is a crazy game. A lot of funny things can happen.
Q. You're one of six guys here that played at the Rio Olympics. Not to majorly compare the two, but thoughts, feelings, about the psyche and mind-set, because both instances, you're not just playing for yourself.
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think they are both very different. They are both unique events obviously. Obviously when you're playing the Olympics, it's a different dynamic. For one, it's stroke play and you're only representing your own country.
For The Presidents Cup, I think it's a little bit larger than that in the sense that you're playing for the team. It's not just yourself and your score. You're going to be playing fourball and foursomes, and the dynamic and the process and the attitude is completely different. The Olympics is still like a four-day event like we play every time. This is nothing like that.
Here, almost how you play affects your partner, and vice versa. So you are almost sometimes not even playing your own natural game. You might have to change your natural game to better suit your partners. It's very different.
Q. As a quick follow-up, it's slightly off the matter at hand, I'm sure you heard the IOC to approve golf to be in the Olympics in Paris in 2024. How do you think things are going to be different in Tokyo in 2020 and for the future of golf in the Olympic Games?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think the future is bright. Golf is definitely going to be one of the major sports globally in the years to come. It already is, but I think in terms of viewership, people getting attracted to the sport, that's going to grow. I think Tokyo is going to be fantastic. Rio was great but Japan is a huge golf-loving nation. Golf is like a religion. I think it's only second after baseball in Japan.
I think golf is going to be one of the highlights sports when we go in Tokyo, and I'm really glad that the IOC decided to continue with golf being a part of the Olympics. I think it's a great opportunity and a great platform to showcase ourselves.
Q. Is there a sense of disappointment that you will not be in the battleground first in the morning tomorrow?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, definitely. I wanted to go out there -- I'm eager. Let's just put it that way; that I'm eager to go out there and perform. But you know, at the end of the day, it's important to have the dynamics and the whole flow of the team right. There's a lot of good reasons behind, you know, Captain Price's decisions today about the pairings. We're going to keep that to ourselves, but obviously I'm going to be looking forward to getting my chance.
I'm likely to tee it up on Friday, and I'm just going to come out here tomorrow and prepare best as possible so that when I go out on Friday, I'm 100 percent ready.
Q. The fact that everybody in the team supported Captain Price, or when they were talking before picking you, it was a unanimous decision from the team that you should be the guy on the team. How does that add to your confidence and to your psyche going into a tournament?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I spoke about this to a couple of people. There are sometimes when your own self-belief is not as high as it should be, in every player's life. There are certain moments in your career where you get that before rowed belief or that borrowed confidence, or that encouragement. I've had that in the past from guys like Arjun and Jeev two or three years ago, and this was, again, a huge validation from some of the greatest players in the world, from people that I respect and I call friends myself.
And those moments change the direction of your career. It definitely did three or four years ago, and I feel that I've got a great opportunity here to prove them right and to actually go out there and just express myself, and just get points for the team, because that's the one thing I really, really wanted to do.
Q. You have a lot of different weights on your shoulders and different people cheering for you, whether it's the folks from The Asian Tour that you grew up playing with or India or Europeans; how do you balance what's best for Anirban Lahiri versus all the people cheering you on and what they may want to see you do?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think at the end of the day, whoever is cheering me on, whether it's in Asia, Europe or here, they all want me to play well. I think that's the one thing that's common everywhere. So that's the one thing I've got to focus on. That's the one thing that's going to help me with what I'm trying to do in my career.
All the things that have a ripple effect, whether it's back home in India or in Asia are all centered around how I play. So my performance is what I need to focus on, as long as I can perform, as long as I can get those results, get a win, that's what's going to affect all those other things peripherally and positively. It's actually quite easy for me because I need to focus on what I need to do. As long as I do that well, everything else takes care of itself.
Q. I know that everyone was so impressed with how you handled 2015, and it not ending the way that you wanted to; are you going to make that putt this year and carry the team to victory?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: We won't let it get to the 18th this year.
Q. How do you look back at this year for yourself? You finished 51 St. In the FedExCup, which is a huge improvement from the last year. You had some great tournaments. But you didn't qualify for the majors, some of the majors. So if you just have to putt into perspective your season and coming towards the end of it --
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think obviously it started out very well with Malaysia last year. Honestly, I've not been very happy with my consistency. That's been a bit of a concern. That's the one thing I want to address going into 2018. I've had a few good events, not as many as I would have liked, but I'm happy that I finished well in Chicago.
Honestly, looking at it, there's been a lot of positives. But there's also a few changes that I think need to come about in the scheme of things for me to improve. My team and I, we're sitting down now and going back to India after this. I'll be spending an extended amount of time with my coach in India this off-season, and we are going to iron out a lot of the areas I feel are inhibiting me from playing my best.
Q. Is there something in particular that you really want to do well in your game?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Well, I just think, the thing is, when I've played well, I've finished well twice this year -- but the idea is, when you have an off-week, you want to be in the 20s. I've missed more cuts this year than I have in my entire career. That's one thing I've looked at and said, this has got to be something I have to bury in the history backs and say, okay, this is the worst it the gets in terms of when I play back.
I'm trying to lift my overall level. Obviously the comfort level has gotten better. I've had a few other pressures off the golf course this year that I've had to manage and handle. I'm just waiting to put those to bed so that I can focus on my golf.
Q. Tell me something about the golf course. What do you think of the golf course, Liberty National, and whether it suits your kind of play?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Absolutely. I think it's a very good track in the sense that it's set up for a lot of birdies. They have got the roughs down, which is again, good for match play, because you still see guys going for it. The golf course is in immaculate shape. I mean, except for maybe the fourth hole, all the par 5s, two par 5s are reachable. It's a very interesting finish with two par 3s.
What's going to be really interesting is the wind is going to switch tomorrow. We have played one wind all of this week, and tomorrow is going to go a completely different way. All your preparation is probably going to have to go back to the drawing board. So I think it's a great, great week, obviously with the Statue of Liberty in the background and New York, New Jersey. I'm very happy. It suits my game perfectly.
Q. Does it feel bigger being in New York City, going by the Statue of Liberty? Does that give it a different feeling? How cool is it to be here?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I think we are all -- I think all of us are so focused on what we need to do. We are all having a lot of fun but believe me, when we get on that ferry, and that ferry starts moving, even the guys that are not playing are focused.
Everybody has got a role and everybody is focused on that role and I think that is what we need to keep that intensity through the week.