Lahiri hopes to keep love affair intact

Ashok, Bhullar and Muniyappa among strong title contenders

Will i get the final touch? (From left) Ashok Kumar, C Muniyappa, Yogesh Agarwal (BILT, COO), Padamjeet Sandhu (Director, PGTI), Himmat Singh Rai and defending champion Anirban Lahiri unveil the BILT Open trophy on Tuesday.

Leading the pack of favourites for the Rs one crore event, the richest tournament in the PGTI calendar along with the LG Masters and moving out of Delhi for the first time, will be local talent Anirban Lahiri. A product of the Eagleton Golf Resort, the 23-year-old can count on the special relationship he shares with the tournament, where he debuted as a professional in 2007.

Despite the presence of many heavyweights then, the sparkling teenager finished a creditable 14th,  before losing out by a stroke to defending champion Jyoti Randhawa in 2008. This, after leading for three rounds, only to be shut out by a spectacular final-round eight-under 64 by Randhawa.

Lahiri graduated from being a rising golfing talent in the country when he finally tasted success last year with a superb all-round show that also sealed his Order of Merit crown.
“Yes, I do share a happy relationship with the BILT Open,” said Lahiri, after unveiling the trophy along with C Muniyappa, Ashok Kumar and Himmat Singh Rai, at a city hotel here on Tuesday.

“I felt disappointed to lose out in 2008 but you can’t do much if Jyoti produces a sizzling round. However, 2009 was mine and the victory gave me the much-needed spark I needed.”

The bond aside, Lahiri needs to be at his best if he wants to keep the title with him. His prime challenger is the red-hot Ashok.

After years of under-performing as a pro despite a successful junior and amateur career, the 30-year-old finally seems to be hitting the straps.

Of the 11 tournaments he has played on the PGTI this year, the Delhiite has the made the cut in all and registered two victories, including at the Bangalore Open at the KGA three weeks ago. Striking the ball at his best, Ashok will definitely be eyeing a victory that will extend his Order of Merit lead.

Reigning Indian Open champion Muniyappa will be making his first appearance at his home course since scripting a fairytale rags-to-riches story last September, while Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar is expected to hog an equal amount of limelight as well.
The course is expected to play as per normal with the raised roughs, tighter fairways and lightning-quick greens laying huge emphasis on accurate driving and putting.

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