The Carnoustie golf course, in its present condition, is sending shivers up the spine of some of the best golfers in the world that have assembled for the 147th hosting of the Open Championship.
The firmness of the golf course in the absence of rains in Scotland over the past four to six weeks has made the fairways lightning fast, with the ball rolling nearly three times more than usual. Several players have spoken of not using the driver during the week, fearful that they would end up in the surrounding fescue or the numerous pot bunkers.
However, India’s Anirban Lahiri has come up with an interesting gameplan to tackle the beast – he is going to play it like he would play the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) course.
The 31-year-old Bengaluru pro has had phenomenal success at Delhi Golf Club, where he has won four titles – the 2015 Hero Indian Open, two SAIL Opens and a Panasonic Open.
“I am quite comfortable with how the golf course is set up. It is almost like the DGC. Everything has to be hit via ground and I am very happy to hit my two iron all day. To me it is a nice mindset. Just be in play and stay out of the bunkers. It is something I really enjoy doing,” said Lahiri, who is playing in his sixth Open Championship, the most by any Indian player.
“It is a little bit firmer and a little bit faster than the DGC, but my approach is going to be similar. The terrain may not be similar, but I need to get that same mindset I use there.
“The ball is running like crazy here, it does over there as well. You need to avoid the bushes and almost thread your tee shots, and you have to do the same here except that the bushes are replaced by the pot bunkers.
“I think this golf course does not give advantage to any particular type of player. All you have to do is find the right spots and miss the bad spots. That’s it. It sounds easy, but at least you don’t have to hit a driver into a five-yard gap all day.”
Lahiri was a regular on the major circuit from 2014 to 2016, but with his world ranking slipping outside the top-50, he has not played the Masters or the US Open the past two years. And having changed his clubs and golf ball at the end of 2017, he went through a frustrating phase this year before turning things around.
“I have missed a few boats in the last 18 months or so. It’s not a nice feeling. There was a time when I used to think whether I would get into the Masters (top-50 of the world qualify automatically) or the US Open (top-60 of the world). However, I am now thinking whether I would make it to the Open, or the PGA Championship,” said Lahiri, who is playing his 14th major, thus matching the record of Jeev Milkha Singh.
“I got lucky this year with the Open (qualified because he played the Presidents Cup last year), but this is not how I want it to be. At the end of the day, I just have to go out and play well. You play good golf and everything else takes care of itself.
“There is no point stressing myself which tournaments I played and which I did not. The only thing I can control is to work hard and prepare well. I did spend a few months in anxiety, or anger, but then I realized that I needed to do the same things that got me to the majors in the first place.”
On his dip in form at the beginning of the year after starting the PGA Tour with two straight top-10s (in October 2017), Lahiri added: “My golf is closer to where it needs to be.
“I have had to manage a lot of transitions this year – change of equipment, change of caddie and other things. I had some issues with my swing and I flew my coach Vijay (Divecha) out to the US for some time and sorted that out. It has been a bit tumultuous, but I am putting it behind me now and am very excited for this week and the future.”
The Indian ace, ranked 104th in the world, starts his Open Championship campaign on Thursday, when he goes out at 14:17 pm alongside world No 28 Matt Kuchar and Peter Uihlein (both from USA).
Updated Date: Jul 18, 2018 22:25:44 IST