Anirban Lahiri is the first Indian golfer to appear in the Masters since 2011, and, boosted by some sage advice from Sir Nick Faldo, the European Tour star is relishing the challenge
Anirban Lahiri may be preparing for his first ever appearance at Augusta, but with four tournament victories over the past year and a world ranking that has rocketed up to 34, the Bangalore golfer is leading The Masters Asian challenge in 2015.
With success comes rising expectation, not just from Lahiri, but from across Asia, from a growing golfing population eager to see homegrown players shine on the world stage. Arjun Atwal was the last Indian golfer to play in the Masters, in 2011, and the best finish by an Indian golfer here was recorded by Jeev Milkha Singh in 2008, when he finished in a tie for 25th.
“It’s massive for Indian golf,” acknowledges Lahiri, 27, who has won the Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open this year on the European Tour. “There are going to be a lot of people up through the night watching the Masters coverage this year.
“I definitely believe I am representing my country as much as I am playing for myself. That helps me to work that little bit harder and it gives me a lot of positivity. There are quite a few Indian ex-patriots in the United States, and a lot of them come up to me saying they are rooting for me and telling me to be proud. It’s fantastic. It gives me so much energy. I definitely want to do well for myself, but I want to do well more for everyone else and for what it might do back home. I have a lot to play for.”
On the small matter of trying to compete at Augusta National for the first time, Lahiri has had the opportunity this week to speak to Sir Nick Faldo, a three-time winner of the Green Jacket.
“When you talk to the great players, what you learn is the detail with which they do everything, and in their preparation,” says Lahiri. “Sir Nick said that the green complexes have been the same for a long time. We know where the pins are likely to be, so you need to make your preparation specific to those pin positions, and try to understand the dynamics of every green complex; which side to miss on, what to take out of play, to look for slopes that might help, and slopes to avoid. Those greens are the magic and the mystery of Augusta. That is something Sir Nick helped me with, which is fantastic.”
Lahiri tees off at 9:13 (U.S. Eastern time) in the first round on Thursday, with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Lee Westwood.
Robin Barwick travelled to Augusta National with Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is global sponsor of the 2015 Masters Tournament