Sports

Lahiri set for new season with a PGA Tour among his immediate goals

V Krishnaswamy Jackson | Updated on September 29, 2021

Anirban Lahiri   -  REUTERS

Anirban Lahiri is all set to open his 2021 campaign at the Country Club in Jackson at the Sanderson Farms Championship on Thursday. Lahiri in a last gasp effort managed to make the Top-125 and qualify for the FedExCup and also keep his Tour card.

Lahiri plays his first two rounds with Russell Knox and JJ Spain. They start at 12.22 pm in the afternoon wave from the first tee.

Lahiri said, “I skipped last week (Fortinet Championship) and then came the Ryder Cup. Now leading up to next week (Sanderson) with all the preparations and time off I am hoping I can hit the ground running.”

He also admitted, “Yeah, I mean I have lots of objectives, lots of targets in the coming season. I need to start checking off the list of things that I need to achieve that have kind of got piled up now over the last few years, so time to get some of those things checked off the list.”

One of them is very obviously winning his first PGA Tour title despite having been on it since 2015. He has even been runner-up and in the just concluded season was T-3 at Barbasol. So, he just needs to get that final step done.

Lahiri has checked in for the first two events – Sanderson Farms and Shriners Hospital. He is unlikely to get into the limited field event, the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship, but will surely play as many events early in the season to get set when 2022 starts.

Lahiri has admitted that keeping his card was at the back of his mind, even as he prepared for the Olympics after finishing T-3 at the Barbasol Championship. With the Tour still having a tournament after the Olympics and Lahiri missing an event due to the Olympics, there was always an element of risk, but Lahiri survived.

“Sure, keeping the card is a goal for every player,” said Lahiri, who had come through the Korn Ferry Tour final series route before the pandemic.

He said, “Frankly, there was a lot on my plate, and I think I am quite pleased with the way I handled the pressure with the Covid situation. And you know how challenging it can be for not fully exempt players, not knowing till the week if you are in the tournament or not. So, I am glad I was able to do that and I had to dig deep. I am proud of how I managed that.”

He also said, “I was totally spent every which way, and all this happened within 3-4 months of having Covid.”

Asked how he took the break in between the two seasons, he said, “So the first part of the time in-between the seasons was spent with family, and some downtime and rest. The last two-and-a-half weeks or so I have gotten back in the gym; have started working out a little bit more, trying to work on endurance as much as possible. At the same time, I am trying to keep an eye on all my parameters and trying to follow post-Covid guidelines. I am recovering my strength and have been in touch with my coach Vijay Divecha as well, and just trying to get back into the same rhythm that I had found towards the end of the season last year.”

Leading the Asian challenger is Korea’s K.H. Lee, who takes his bow in the PGA TOUR’s 2021-22 season at this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship with three clear goals in his mind – secure a second TOUR victory, break into the world’s top-50 and qualify for the International Team to compete in the 2022 Presidents Cup against the US.

Off the golf course, Lee, 30, was also over the moon as he and his wife, Joo Yeon Yu, welcomed the arrival of their first child, a daughter named Celine Yuna Lee in July.

A strong line-up of Asian stars are in this week’s field at Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi. It includes fellow Koreans Sungjae Im, who finished runner-up here in 2019, Sung Kang, Si Woo Kim and Seung Yul Noh, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who finished T2 at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour earlier this month, India’s Anirban Lahiri and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan.

The field this week includes 2020 champion Sergio Garcia, who comes straight from the Ryder Cup. The field also has 2015 winner Peter Malnati, Keegan Bradley, Cam Davis (T6), Charley Hoffman, Brandt Snedeker and Sebastian Munoz.

The Country Club of Jackson opens its doors for the eighth consecutive year to host the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Published on September 29, 2021

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