India’s Anirban Lahiri walks with a slight spring in his steps these days. Gone are the times when he would stare at the ground with shoulders slumped after concluding another round on the PGA TOUR.
Confidence is a vital ingredient in any athlete’s daily grind and the 31-year-old Lahiri is certainly enjoying a new sense of self-belief after enjoying a decent run with a first top-10 in nearly two years and a couple of top-40s in his first three starts to the 2020-21 PGA TOUR Season.
Following a three-week break, Lahiri, who at his heights represented the International Team in the Presidents Cup in 2015 and 2017, tees it up at the Bermuda Championship this week where he is eager to make further improvements after enduring a difficult past two years which has seen him miss more cuts that he’d like to.
“I’m really excited … it’s been three good weeks. I got a lot of work done, took some time off, kind of reflected on the start and also looked at areas that I need to work on and get better at. I’m playing much better. For me, it’s all about staying in the process and keep moving in that direction,” said Lahiri.
The tenacious Indian, who is a former Asian Tour No. 1, finished T36 in the season-opening Safeway Open last month, T6 at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship and T37 at the Sanderson Farms Championship to currently lie in 51st position on the FedExCup points list. In those tournaments, he shot two average rounds, a 77 at Safeway and a 74 at Sanderson Farms, which he knows hurt his chances of higher finishes.
“It’s all about building that momentum going forward, build on that confidence and belief and snowball it into getting into contention more often, maybe this week, and try to work for a ‘W’. I have to think that way. That’s my attitude at the moment and that’s what I’m looking forward to. The game has been one bad round or mediocre round every event, and there’s been a lot of good golf and a lot of birdies and a lot of other positives as well,” said Lahiri.
While he continues to work regularly with long-time coach Vijay Divecha, Lahiri has spent time recently with short-game coach James Sieckmann to sharpen his tools as he seeks a career breakthrough on the PGA TOUR in what is his sixth season in the U.S.
Obviously spending extended time with my coach back in India (during the shutdown) made a huge difference and that’s beginning to show. I trust my game a lot more, hitting my game a lot better, I’m hitting my irons a lot better, which has basically always been my strength and not so much so in the last couple years. So getting back to basics,” said Lahiri, who holds 11 top-10s, including one runner-up finish, in 122 career starts on the the PGA TOUR.
Lahiri has an old score to settle at the Bermuda Championship which he shot rounds of 66 and 73 in the inaugural tournament last year but had to withdraw before the start of the third round due to injury. “I played well the few holes that I did play last year. Yeah, hoping to extend that to 72 and keep playing well. It’s unique. Obviously the biggest challenge here is the wind and I consider myself to be a pretty good wind player. I’ve had a lot of good results at windy venues and the grasses are tropical, so it’s a lot like what I’m used to playing, primarily Bermuda,” he said.
“It was unfortunate that I got hurt, but up until that point of time I felt really comfortable on the golf course. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way when I get started and I’m looking forward to it.”
He is also looking forward to seeing fans back on the golf course as the Bermuda Championship will become the first event on TOUR to allow fans back on site. “I think it’s a great sign. I think it’s a step forward. Bermuda as a country has done really well in managing and handling the virus. It will be great for us to have the galleries again and have that atmosphere that obviously they bring, the fans bring.”
As he isn’t in the field for next week’s Vivint Houston Open, Lahiir hopes to gain a backdoor entry by finishing in the top-10 in Bermuda, similar to what he did with his top-10 in Corales Puntacana which got him into the Sanderson Farms Championship. “There’s a lot to play for. I’m in a position where I’m not getting into a lot of events. This is going to be my fourth event of the year and may even be the last just looking at how many entries have come in for the remainder of the events. So I have to make the most of it,” said Lahiri.
“I have to try and get as many points up so when the season restarts, whenever I get my next opportunity, I’m not trying to run with a gun to my head. It’s very important for me to get off to that start, so it’s important for me to be focused at every event.
“I’m close, I’m definitely close. How close, I don’t know. Might be this week, might be two weeks from now. I think if I keep playing to my ability, to my potential, that I can push it further and further and higher and that’s how I want to look at it.”