October 02, 2017: There is no athlete that enjoys being on the vanquished side. Anirban Lahiri will be seething from the pain of this Presidents Cup loss, but when it subsides, he can take consolation from his efforts over the past week. The 30 year old Indian accounted for 1.5 points for his International team, including a fine win on Saturday.
Considering the scars Anirban carried into this Presidents Cup and the bruising 6&5 loss in the Friday four-ball, he did well to hold his own. Sport is mostly a mental battle and Anirban can take pride from refusing to budge even in the face of overwhelming odds.
It was a brilliant victory, a lone one too, on another day of battering suffered by the International team. Anirban and Kim stood tall on the day when the Americans won six of the seven points on offer.
Emiliano Grillo summed up the team’s acknowledgement by putting up a label in the presser that read Anirban “Big Balls” Lahiri.
The world remembers that three foot putt that lipped out toward the end of the 2015 Presidents Cup, leaving agonizing scars for Anirban.
It was one of the final two matches that contributed to a narrow loss for the Internationals in the midst of a lengthy drought. His effort this past week should help Anirban heal some of those wounds.
This is the last Presidents Cup as captain for Nick Price and the competition is under increasing commercial pressure. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. No matter how the pendulum swings, there is no question that it needs more men in the mould of Anirban to create a sense of bonding for the Internationals.
A team competition is built on a foundation of identity. Clearly the Internationals are suffering from it, despite the best efforts to present a unified face. The Presidents Cup needs to quickly find a meaningful narrative for the team to rally around or face an imminent death.
In the Ryder Cup both Europe and USA have both strong anchors to align as a team, resulting in a strong competition. But in the Presidents Cup seems to be suffering from an imbalance that is hard to address.
Clearly it needs more characters like Anirban who can find the spirit and energy needed to rally the team around for a unified campaign.