Southport: Two Indian golfers — Anirban Lahiri and Shiv Kapur — will be looking to make an impact when they tee off at The Open, starting on Thursday.
It is only the third time that there will be two Indians at the same edition of The Open championships.
While Lahiri drove in from Irvine, where he played at the Scottish Open, Kapur has flown in from Delhi after qualifying earlier this month at the 36-hole single qualifier in Woburn. He has had a fine season with a long overdue win in Taiwan and a second place in Thailand.
The last time two Indians featured in the same Open was in 2012, when Lahiri made his debut and Jeev Milkha Singh also played in the field at Royal Lytham.
Before that, in 2004 Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal featured at Royal Troon. Randhawa's tied-27th finish that year remains as the best finish by an Indian at an Open.
Lahiri, who is playing his fifth Open — the most by any Indian — feels he is well prepared for the championships.
"I was keeping an eye on where my world ranking was and was doing my own research to see how far it has gone down the list. I was quietly confident, so mentally I was prepared to play this week about a month ago. That's why I played in Scotland last week with the intention to play this week."
Lahiri, whose best finish at an Open is tied-30 at St. Andrews in 2015, said: "It was a great experience, especially in the second and fourth rounds. In between I got a taste of how things could be in Birkdale. Playing with Padraig Harrington, winner of the Open, when it was last held at Birkdale helped. He shared some insights."
Lahiri, who has locked his PGA Tour card for 2018 and also a place in FedEx play-offs, is looking at getting his ranking inside Top-50 once again and also making the Presidents Cup.
"I think it is one of the best Open tracks which I've played so far. As the conditions get tougher, it will be a real challenge. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm glad I played in Scotland last week and get some links golf under the belt," Lahiri said.
"I'm making a lot of birdies and I'm putting good numbers over 18 holes. I seem to have that odd round that I let it go. I got to be really focussed right through the week especially on the course like this. If you lose your focus or confidence, you can let it get away from you. I feel like I'm up for it," he added.
Kapur, who was tied fourth after first day before finishing tied-73 in 2013, arrived in Birkdale early and got some invaluable practice.
"I've played this golf course in two completely different winds so you need to have two strategies rather than one. You learn how to combat weather when you play on links courses and most of the time the yardage books go out of play. It is a lot of feel, ball flight control and creativity. You need to use a lot of imagination," he said.
"This is my third Open and I'm comparing the course to my previous experience. It is a tough test but very fair at the same time. The trouble confronts you and there aren't many blind shots. You got to hit it straight off the tee," insisted Kapur.
Updated Date: Jul 20, 2017 10:54:18 IST