Malaysian Open win motivated me: Anirban Lahiri
New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS)
Star Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri Tuesday said his maiden European Tour victory at the Malaysian Open a fortnight ago motivated him "to not stop believing". The 27-year-old carded two-under 70 and par-72 in the first two rounds, respectively, in Malaysia. He was joint 21st after the first two days at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. However, he charged into contention in the third round of the $3 million tournament, shooting a stunning 10-under 62 to trail third round leader Bernd Wiesberger of Austria by five shots. Continuing his charge, Lahiri fired 68 to register a one-stroke victory over Wiesberger and earned $500,000 for the victory.
"That was a very special win. It was the sixth time I won (on the Asian Tour) and was my first on the European Tour -- that's what made it more special. The other thing that sets this win apart is that I finally won a big event," Lahiri said.
The Malaysian Open was co-sanctioned event by the Asian and European Tour.
"The way I won the title was also special. In the first two rounds, I was not satisfied with my performance apart from the result. I was trying and missing a lot. I did well on the third day and won it finally. That also inspired me not to stop believing. It is what I dreamt of and I achieved."
The win also helped the Arjuna awardee, who started playing the sport at the Army Golf Course in Bengaluru, jump 36 places to be 37th in the world golf rankings.
With this ranking (now 39) and consistency, Lahiri is looking on course for qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. Golfers ranked inside the top-60 will qualify for the Rio Games.
Lahiri is also in line to play the Masters tournament -- one of the four Majors of the sport to be held in April in the American city of Augusta. However, Lahiri wants to stay in the present.
"Apart from the dreams and aspirations, I like to live in the present. For me, it is always about the next week, next tournament. I don't like to set far-sighted targets," said the Bengaluru-born.
For the moment, Lahiri hopes to fulfil his childhood dream of a victory at the Indian Open, starting Thursday at the Delhi Golf Club here. In the last edition in 2013, Lahiri and his compatriot S.S.P. Chowrasia were tied second as Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh bagged the title.
"It was a case of so near and yet so far," said Lahiri.
A year before that, Lahiri was tied fifth in Bengaluru and in 2009, he was tied third. So he really hopes to make up for those misses.
The Indian, who is the highest ranked player in the elite field, will challenge for honours against title holder Siddikur and 21-time European Tour winner Miguel Angel Jimenez, who returns to India for the first time since 2008.
Scott Hend of Australia, a six-time Asian Tour winner, Jyoti Randhawa, only the second player to win three Indian Open titles, Thaworn Wiratchant, Jeev Milkha Singh and Marcus Fraser will also feature in the event.