India’s leading golfer says he is better prepared in his second stint for the year’s first Major that begins today
Augusta (Georgia): When you see Anirban Lahiri (right) from a distance he exudes a feeling of "being at home". Whether it is on the practice range, the course or the clubhouse or even making his way through the various parts of the Augusta National Golf Club. There is a sense "I know where to go".
India golfer Anirban Lahiri
That’s what will be the key as he negotiates the world’s most famous golf club this week in his second appearance at the Masters.
"I have been here before, I have played with all the guys here. I know which alley to take to get to most places around the club and I know the course, so that sense of awe, which was there was last year, is not there any more," says Lahiri, 28, with a lot of confidence.
He catches a word with Hideki Matsuyama, a good friend of his; exchanges pleasantries with Patrick Reed; gives a thumbs up to another couple of players; an acknowledgement here and a nod there. Yes, he is very much at home at this level, along with the best in the game.
On Thursday, Lahiri will play his first round with Jimmy Walker, a multiple winner on PGA Tour, and European Tour regular, Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark. "I made lot of friends at the Presidents Cup last year. Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and all the others are great guys. As you play, you get to know them and the families more and it makes you feel more comfortable and confident."
Talking of the year’s first Major, he said, "The Masters is the first pit-stop when you talk of the Majors and one starts thinking about it 3-4 months in advance. The schedule, the training for the initial months of the year revolves around that. I worked a bit with my coach, Vijay Divecha. The ball striking was great around the time of the PGA Championships (he was tied fifth), and we worked on putting and some other aspects of the short game.
"This is a confidence game. So even if you putt the four and six footers early on, it builds on. At Augusta, chipping and putting will be crucial and I feel the conditions could be tough around Friday. So, I will need to take all my chances; make the makeable putts and be ready to bite the bullet."