March 14, 2017: All that matter these days for Anirban Lahiri is for him to consistently produce his best golf, rather than focus on chasing golf dreams.
The Indian golf star, who was the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion in 2015, desires dearly to qualify again for the Masters Tournament next month and the International Team which faces the United States in the Presidents Cup later this season.
A few years ago, the 29-year-old would have altered his schedule to try and achieve those goals but experience now tells him to do otherwise.
Currently ranked 77th in the world, Lahiri said his Masters hopes will hinge on this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational as he has decided to skip the event in Houston, which is the last counting tournament for players to break into the world’s top-50 and earn their tickets to Augusta National.
“I’ve got one more week to try to qualify for the Masters. I’ve made my mind up that I won’t be playing Houston just because I’ve been a pro for 10 years now and in the entire duration, there’s always something to chase,” he said after finishing tied fifth at last week’s Hero Indian Open.
“When you start as a rookie, you try to chase your card, and when you are a regular, you’re trying to chase your first win, and then the Order of Merit. There’s always something to chase. I’ve got to a point where I’m trying to play my best golf. If that means I have to hold myself back from chasing things down, I will do that. I believe I am good enough to get into these events as long as I can play to my potential.”
The Masters Tournament is indeed an event Lahiri believes he can do well, especially after finishing tied 49th and equal 42nd in the past two editions.
Another event which the seven-time Asian Tour winner has his eyes on is the Presidents Cup, which he made his debut in Korea two years ago but missed a putt on the last green to lose a vital singles match to American Chris Kirk. The U.S. won the Cup by single point, 15.5 to 14.5.
“That’s something I want to play,” said the Florida-based Lahiri, who is ranked 20th on the International team standing, with the top-10 qualifying automatically on September 4.
“Without a doubt, I have unfinished business. I am so psyche on getting back onto that team, I’m motivated. I have to approach it as a by-product and not as a target. It has to be a by-product of me playing well. I need to spend my energy on getting myself better instead of chasing something.”
After missing the cut in his first tournament of the year in Hawaii early this, Lahiri has pieced together a nice run of form, with two top-10s and three top-25s around the world.
However, he has lamented his putting stats.
“This last two months, it’s been so frustrating. If I’d putted 20% better, make my four footers and regulation putting, I would comfortably be in the top-50 in the world and I’ve just managed to do enough to come up short. It’s disappointing,” said Lahiri.
“It’s a positive thing (though) that I’m playing well despite one department not going too well. All the departments haven’t come together. Going into Bay Hill, I’ll spend some extra time in and around the greens to try and get comfortable. Whenever I take a break, you’ll find me in the short game area for sure.”