NEW DELHI (AP) Fresh from winning two titles on the European Tour this month, India’s Anirban Lahiri has now set his sights on matching that success on the PGA Tour.
”It’s a whole new world out there, everything has changed overnight,” Lahiri told The Associated Press on phone Thursday after reaching a career-high ranking of 34. ”These are exciting times. It’s a lot to take in such a short space and all I can think of right now is to play well for the rest of the year.”
It’s no small feat to capture the attention of cricket-mad India when that sport is in the midst of its World Cup, but that’s precisely what Lahiri did by winning the Indian Open at New Delhi last weekend, just two weeks after victory in the Malaysian Open.
”The Malaysian win was special because it was my first on the European Tour while the Indian Open is important for sentimental reasons because it is our national Open,” 27-year-old Lahiri said.
As impressive as his consistency has been from week to week, even more admirable is the way Lahiri attacked the latter parts of both tournaments.
The Indian shot a 10-under 62 in the third round to vault into contention in Kuala Lumpur and eventually beat Bernd Wiesberger by a shot, and then bridged a seven-stroke gap against compatriot Shiv Chowrasia in the final round at New Delhi before beating him in a play-off.
”It would not be right to say I revel in such situations. It’s just that over the past 2-3 years I’ve been in contention many times and have learnt from when I have not won,” Lahiri said.
”You have to understand how your body and mind function during challenging times. That understanding has probably improved for me with experience,” added Lahiri, who does yoga and meditation to enhance his concentration powers.
Lahiri was ranked well outside the top 100 in 2013 but two victories and eight top-10 finishes saw him finish second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last year and rise to 64th in the world rankings.
He skipped the Manila Masters Championship in November to focus on the European Tour Qualifying School.
”It was a simple choice for me,” Lahiri said. ”My priority is to be playing in Europe and America. It did prove to be the right decision because I got my European Tour card. And now that I’ll be on the European Tour for the next three years by virtue of being a multiple-winner, I can move my focus toward the USPGA.
”My aim is to win in America, to play well in the majors. That will be the true test.”
Lahiri is bullish about the immediate future for Indian golf and credits Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa, all in their 40s, for their pioneering work in developing the sport in the world’s most populous nation.
”Our entire generation is inspired by them,” Lahiri said. ”It’s thanks to these three players that Indian golfers have the confidence of doing well.
”Several of us have been winning on the Asian Tour. A certain belief system has developed and when one of us wins, others get a confidence booster. Everybody spurs each other.”