Lahiri eager to continue reign

Siddikur, Perera to challenge the Indian

Lahiri eager to continue reign

Defending Eagleburg Open champion Anirban Lahiri will be keen on extending his reign as the PGTI makes a rare early season pit stop in the city.

Last July, Lahiri rode on a wave of emotion following the death of Eagleton Golf Resort founder Ashok Kumar Meda to capture his maiden title at his home course, a catalyst that saw him finish the season as the highest-ranked Indian in world golf at 111.

And, the 26-year-old has just built on that momentum beautifully, kick-starting the 2014 season with a thumping six-shot victory at the Ahmedabad Masters 10 days ago. Things got even sweeter for Lahiri as he got a chance to swing with Tiger Woods during the golfing great’s maiden visit to India last week.

“It’s one of the best phases of my life,” Lahiri said after Tuesday’s practice round. “Win a tournament, meet the legendary Tiger Woods, what else can you ask for. It’s always special to play at your home course and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Things, however, won’t be served on a platter for Lahiri who has now risen to World No 108. The field, despite missing the likes of S Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi — who are in Thailand for the Asian Tour Q School Final Stage — boasts a relatively strong field with Siddikur, Himmat Singh Rai, Rahil Gangjee, Chiragh Kumar, Mithun Perera, Shamim Khan and Mukesh Kumar possessing the skill and experience to go the distance in the Rs 30 lakh event.

Siddikur is the reigning Indian Open champion and when the Bangladeshi is on song, there are few who can stop him. Sri Lankan Perera just completed a memorable home triumph in the Standard Chartered Open at Royal Colombo Golf Club last week while Himmat Singh and Chiragh will be keen to win a tightly-contested race.

The biggest poser for the 120-odd field is the timing of the event. Generally PGTI stops by post-August when conditions are ideal but with the winter just giving way to summer, conditions appear very dry at the par-72 course. Winds have always played a big factor at Eagleton where hazards are few and fairways are larger and how much it blows could determine the winner.

“The course is dry but the greens are playing soft,” said Lahiri. “I guess we should see a lot of low scores this week. There is lot of quality in the field, so it should be very exciting.”

While Lahiri will be eyeing another shot at glory, one person who would be keen on regaining the magic of the past is his friend C Muniyappa.

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