Incheon (South Korea): Anirban Lahiri's humour and golf skills are both winning him new friends and fans, according to the International Team's skipper, Nick Price. Zimbabwean legend Price, who was the World No 1 in mid-1990s, was full of praise for the 28-year-old Indian.
International team player Anirban Lahiri (right) walks with teammate Thongchai Jaidee at the 18th hole during a practice session at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea yesterday. Pic/AFP
"He brings a great sense of humour to the team. A lot of guys didn't realise how funny he is but he has a really good sense of humour and he's just so keen to get out there and play. We're very happy he's on the team," Price said.
Price hopes that one day the Presidents Cup will come to India. The event is being played in Asia for the first time in its history going back to the first edition in 1994.
He said, "I think it's a huge bonus or however you want to put it for us to have an Indian for the first time on our team. We know how big golf has become in India, and all of us hope that maybe one day the Presidents Cup will go to India. I mean, you guys have produced some really good golfers over the last 10-12 years, and I think that it's just great that Anirban (Lahiri) is on there."
Lahiri himself has given Price a lot of credit for motivating him to work to get into the team. He recently said, "Nick Price... he's just an amazing guy. I met him last year and I didn't even know there's a list to get on the Presidents Cup. I didn't know what the format was, I didn't know what the criteria was... nothing.
"And then I went to play a tournament in Fiji and he was there and he came up to me. He said that he was looking at how I've been playing and he likes what he sees and he would love to have me continue to make progress. "My wife (Ipsa) was there in Fiji and I said to her, 'you know, I've got to find a way to get on that team.'"
Lahiri's stock rising
Till then Lahiri had won just once outside India in CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters. Then he added the Venetian Macau Open and things started moving at a faster pace early this year, as he won the Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open at the start of the year and moved into Top-50 of the world, from where things moved even faster.
On Sunday, he officially got his PGA Tour card and now the Presidents Cup.
Lahiri admitted, "This is as big as it gets. It is a opportunity of a lifetime, something I will always cherish." The past 10 editions of the event have seen Internationals win only once in 1998.