Lahiri primed for Open debut
Indian prospect Anirban Lahiri is fully prepared for his baptism of fire when he makes his Major debut at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Lahiri, who is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, earned his place in the world's oldest Major through International Final Qualifying - Asia in Thailand and has been eagerly waiting to line-up alongside the world's greatest players.
"Of the four Majors, the Open and the Masters are probably the hallowed events. Growing up, that's where you want to be - it's been a dream of mine. I'm really fortunate and privileged that I will be a part of an event like this. It's an opportunity to move my game into the next level," said Lahiri.
In preparation for the biggest challenge yet in his young career, Lahiri made a flying visit to Royal Lytham and St Annes in early June with his coach and played several rounds to acclimatize to links golf, which is synonymous with The Open.
"I think it was good that I managed to go there early to get a feel for the course. It was a great experience and it sets me up for The Open. I played a couple of rounds and fortunately, the winds switched which was good. It gave me a great look at how things might be," said Lahiri.
However, what he saw last month has left him with no illusion that the Asians will face a tough challenge in conditions so unfamiliar to them.
The closest an Asian has come to winning The Open was in 1971 when Lu Liang-huan of Taiwan finished second behind Lee Trevino of the United States.
"It's going to be a new experience. It'll be hard to say if I'm going to be over-awed. It'll be the best field I'll be in. I've played in some big events, played with Phil (Mickelson) before. But the Open is a whole different ball game," said Lahiri.
"It is a very tough course. There are 208 bunkers and all of them are in play depending on the wind. It can be so severe if the wind switches."
Since breaking out on the Asian Tour in 2008, Lahiri's stock has risen sharply with each passing season.
He won the Panasonic Open India last year for his maiden Tour victory and followed up with a second win earlier this season at the SAIL-SBI Open, which was also on home soil.
With both his Tour wins being at the notoriously difficult Delhi Golf Club, Lahiri said it would help him tackle the demanding challenges of links golf, which is often associated with strong gale winds, cold and rain.