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Sports


Anirban Lahiri: I’m close to playing my best golf

Anirban Lahiri: I’m close to playing my best golf

Kolkata, Oct 28 (UNI) Indian star Anirban Lahiri has made a decent start to the 2020-21
PGA Tour season having posted a tied sixth and two other finishes inside the top-40
from his three starts so far.
These are some positive signs for the former Asia No. 1 who had a forgettable
2019-20 PGA Tour season where he didn’t secure a single top-25 finish.
In a virtual interview conducted by the PGA Tour ahead of this week’s Bermuda
Championship, Anirban spoke about his current form, spending time in India during
the lockdown and playing events during the pandemic. Here we feature some
extracts from that interview.
Lahiri, who returns to competition at the Port Royal Golf Course after a three‑week
break, said, “I'm really excited to be back. It's been three good weeks. I got a lot of
work done, took some time off, kind of reflected on the start and also looked at
areas that I need to work on and get better at."
“I played some good golf at this venue last year with rounds of 66 and 73 before
withdrawing in the third round. It's a pretty nice golf course. It's unique. Obviously
the biggest challenge here is the wind and I consider myself to be a pretty good
wind player. I've had a lot of good results at windy venues and the grasses are
tropical, so it's a lot like what I'm used to playing, primarily bermuda," he said.
“I feel I'm definitely close to playing my best golf. How close, I don't know. Might
be this week, might be two weeks from now,” Lahiri added.
Interestingly, since the tour resumed, the Bermuda Championship will be the first
event to allow a limited number of spectators on the course.
The PGA Tour resumed events in June this year when the Covid-19 pandemic was
wreaking havoc across the world. This led the tour to introduce a lot of new rules and
protocols for the safe conduct of events. The experience of playing in such
circumstances has been a new one for all pros including Anirban.
“It's obviously been a different kind of way to travel and play events. I think the Tour
has done a great job of keeping us all healthy and safe ahead of everything else and
still managed to conduct these events," Lahiri said.
“Obviously once we get to the tournament, we follow all the protocols. We have to
test almost twice a week every week just to make sure that everyone is healthy and
safe. There's lots of measures that have been implemented within the clubhouse.
We still don't have family and coaches and the support staff necessarily inside the
bubble, just the caddies and the players at the moment. So all the precautions are
in place and we're all getting used to it,” said Lahiri, a two-time winner on the
European Tour.
Speaking about his good recent form, Anirban emphasized on how spending time
with his coach Vijay Divecha back in India during the lockdown helped him.
Lahiri said, “I put in a lot of work during the lockdown when I was in India, put a lot
of new processes, refreshed a lot of my old practices and things that used to work
for me. I've been able to implement a lot of those changes so far this season."
“Obviously spending extended time with my coach back in India made a huge
difference and that's beginning to show. I trust my game a lot more, I'm hitting my
irons a lot better, which has basically always been my strength but not so much so
in the last couple of years," he said.
“I think it's been a bit of a mixed bag in my first three events this season. I've obviously
had one good result and a couple of average results. I think the game has been a few
loose holes every event, the game has been one bad round or mediocre round every
event, and there's been a lot of good golf and a lot of birdies and a lot of other positives
as well," Lahiri said.
“For me it was just identifying where some of those mistakes are coming from and what
are the areas I need to tighten up. There's definitely been some inconsistency with my
iron play. My long game and driving by and large has been good. Barring one day out of
the three events that I played, my putting's been pretty solid. More or less most
departments are in good shape barring the odd inconsistency, which is exactly what I was
trying to work on over the last few weeks," he said.
“It's a matter of getting off to a good start. That's something that I haven't done as
consistently, so I’ll be focusing on a good start and then keep my foot on the pedal or
keep that momentum and keep myself in it all four days,” added Anirban, who has
recently been working hard with his short game coach Jim Sieckmann."
Lahiri, who represented India at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is currently ranked 566 in the
world and thus not one of the top contenders at the moment for the two berths in the
Indian Olympic team for next year. But the 33-year-old prefers to stay in the present and
not think too far ahead.
“There's a lot to play for and I'm in a position where I'm not getting into a lot of events.
This is going to be my fourth event of the year and may even be the last just looking at
how many entries have come in for the remainder of the events. So I have to make the
most of it," he said.
“Without getting too far ahead into the future for other teams or Olympics or so many
things that we have to play for and so many things that we aspire to do for ourselves, for
our country, I think it all starts with right now and what I need to do right now and play well
in the moment,” said Anirban, who is affectionately known as Baan to all those close to
him," Lahiri said.
While he was in India, Lahiri, a two-time participant at the Presidents Cup, also cherished
the time he spent with younger Indian golfers like Udayan Mane and Chikkarangappa.
Anirban said, “It was fantastic. You know, they're family. At least that's how I like to think
about it. Chikka's like a younger brother to me and so are a lot of other kids that I worked
with that work with Vijay (Divecha) at his academy."
“So for me to be able to spend so much time at home with my friends and my family and
my extended family was great. More than them picking my brains, I picked their brains. I try
to learn from them. I try and pass on whatever knowledge I have or whatever experience
I have and I enjoy doing it, too. I see so much talent, I see so much potential that sometimes
I can't help it, I'll reach out to them and I'll probably give them advice even when they don't
want it. So to that extent I feel old, I guess, like a veteran in some aspects,” he said.
When asked what has been the silver lining for him this year despite all the constraints
posed by the pandemic, Lahiri reflected on his time spent away from the game earlier
this year.
“I came to India for the Indian Open and we all know what happened after that. So yeah,
I think being away from the game for 70‑something days, I didn't hit a golf ball, I didn't have
my golf clubs with me. They were at the academy and that was a challenge. It's probably
the longest I've been away from my clubs for 20 years, maybe more,' he said.
“I think that also gives you some perspective. It builds the hunger to come back and
motivates you, something that can suffer when you have an extended period of bad
golf like I did, so that was the big take-away for me,” said the seven-time international
winner.
UNI BM

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