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Time for Anirban Lahiri to tee off at the Home of Golf

St. Andrews, Scotland: Relaxed walks around on cobble-stoned streets in this University town with his family and the comfort of having his tried and trusted caddie, Rajiv, back besides the presence of his long-time coach, Vijay Divecha have given Anirban Lahiri a sense of comfort.

Anirban Lahiri. Pic/AFP
Anirban Lahiri. Pic/AFP

It is a sense of comfort that he may not have felt since winning the Hero Indian Open in February, which catapulted him into the exalted club of Top-50 in the world. It was also the period during which he won twice in three weeks.

Since then, Lahiri has played a lot in US and Europe, but with moderate success. The stage has been way bigger at the Masters, the US Open and the WGCs besides events he had never played before.

Lahiri said, "I feel my game has been alright, and I had my good and bad runs. At the same time, my golf has been littered with a lot of casual mistakes. I have streaks of brilliance and then some errors."

However, the biggest comfort this week is getting his regular caddie, Delhi-based Rajiv, back on the bag. "The big change is that I've got Rajiv back on my bag who last carried it during the Indian Open. He has been with me during all my seven wins and we work together very well especially in the mental aspect. He understands how I think and operates and he knows how to bring out the best in me. That's why he's back," said Lahiri.

Lahiri has been careful not to overdo practice or playing, simply because it is the Open. "This is my third Open and I'm as comfortable as I can be. I know most of these guys by first name and it's different from the time when I was still a wide-eyed boy. This (playing at The Open) is not unusual anymore," he says.

Lahiri, whose shots have a natural tendency to go left, feels the course suits him. At the Old Course, anything to the right is dangerous and that should be fine for Lahiri. "You got to favour the left side for most of the tee shots which is my natural shot shape. There are a few scoring holes out there and you got to get through the first few holes strongly. I've more or less got my strategy in place," said Lahiri.

Winner of two European Tour events, Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open this year, Lahiri is playing his third British Open and his sixth Major. He has made cuts once each in Open (2012 when he was T-31) and at 2015 Masters (T-49). At 58th, he is still the highest ranked Indian but only the third among the four Asians in Top-100.

In line to become the first Indian to make the International Team for President's Cup in September, Lahiri saw a whole new world open up after making the Top-50 of the world. Now, there is nothing more he wants than to get back to that elite club. A good showing at the Open will help open that door once again.

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