Former World No 1 sees huge rise in golf popularity if the Indian wins an Olympic medal
Nassau (Bahamas): Anirban Lahiri was very excited at the prospect of teeing alongside the best – in fact he is paired with Jordan Spieth in the first round – at the USD 3.5 million Hero World Challenge golf at the Albany in Bahamas.
Pawan Munjal, Chairman, MD and CEO of Hero MotoCorp (centre) with Tiger Woods and India's top golfer Anirban Lahiri at the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas yesterday. Pic/PTI
Tiger Woods, who hosts the tournament is convinced that Lahiri is the man for the immediate future for India and his phenomenal rise could lead to an explosion of the game in India and he could even win an Olympic medal.
And Pawan Munjal, Chairman of Hero MotoCorp, a keen golfer, was justifiably proud in his Brand Ambassador being spoken of so highly.
Great year for Lahiri
Lahiri, speaking on the eve of the 2015 Hero World Challenge, said, "Yeah, it's been a very, very important year for me. It's been a great year, lots of firsts. Getting my card for next year in America, playing the Presidents Cup, Top five at Whistling Straits (PGA Championships. So I've had a highlight-filled year. But just being here at such a great event amongst the best players in the world."
He added, "I would like to thank Mr Pawan Munjal and the Tiger Woods Foundation for having me because these are the kind of events and fields that you want to play against every week and I'm really excited. So I'm looking forward to a good week."
Woods is very positive on Lahiri's potential. He added, "Yeah, I watched him at the PGA at Whistling Straits this year. He had a wonderful chance, played really well. He was doing everything well, just ran into a couple guys ahead of him that did everything well as well. So how many "wells" can I say in that?
"But after getting to know him and watching him play, he has an inordinate amount of talent and it was just a matter of him committing to play over here. He went through the process, went through the European Tour, earned his way out here and now has his card."
Woods also feels convinced that bringing golf into the Olympics was a master move. He maintains that this is a big catalyst for golf, saying, "Well, it (golf) has already has been (a catalyst) in lot of countries even before starting. As a result a lot of governments have gotten involved and subsidized golf programmes at the grassroots level to get players for not just the 2016 Olympics, but 20 (2020) or 24 (2024).
"Well I am sure Anirban will be part of Olympics, and he will do great. Hopefully he wins it. That will be a huge explosion for the whole of India."
Former World No 1 Tiger Woods does not know when he will play golf again. The 39-year-old was speaking at a press conference ahead of the Hero World Challenge, the 18-man tournament hosted by his foundation, but he will not be playing in the Bahamas this week and says he does not know "where is the light at the end of the tunnel". Asked about his return from back surgery, Woods, who has not played since the Wyndham Championship in August, said: "I have no answer for that. Neither does my surgeon or my physio. There is no timetable."