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इंडियन आवाज़     14 Apr 2024 01:25:01      انڈین آواز

Confident Lahiri and contender Colsaerts look forward to Hero Indian Open 2024

(Last Updated On: 26/03/2024)
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Harpal Singh Bedi

Gurugram, 26 March : Former champion Anirban Lahiri on Tuesday admitted he was ‘desperate’ to regain the title , as he gets ready to tee up at the Hero Indian Open on Thursday  

Lahiri who won the Hero Indian Open in 2015,  said  he was happy to be back ‘home’ but is keen to prove to himself, more than anyone else, that he still has what it takes to win.

The 2024 edition is one of the strongest with almost a third of the players in 144-strong field having won on the DP World at some point. The winner will receive a cheque of USD 382,500, the runner-up picking up USD 247,500 and the third-place finisher pocketing USD 141,750.

“You know the weight of, I don’t know how many dozens of seconds, I’ve had, lays heaviest on my shoulders. So I need to get that off my back. I want to win, I am desperate to win,” declared Lahiri, who missed the event last year. 

In between, the two-time Olympian Lahiri called ‘Olympics’ as an unfinished business. He laughed and said, “I have had two shots at it. I have a whole list of excuses for why I didn’t play well, like every professional athlete.”

“It’s like a major championship, right? You want to have as many starts at majors as possible to contend and to win. It’s the same thing. The Olympics are fewer and much further in between. So, I don’t know where my goal for the world of golf will be four years from now.  I need to focus on, as I said, potentially eight rounds or 12 rounds that I have between now and Paris that will get me there. I want to just focus on the Olympics.”

Amidst aiming for a third Olympic start and ending a nine-year-long title drought, Lahiri said, “It’s really wonderful to be coming back, it’s a homecoming of every sort. It’s fantastic at DLF, I was just telling my caddie who’s come here for the first time from the US that the first time I played here was in 1999 as a 12-year-old. So, it goes back down memory lane a long time. 

” It’s fun to be back, nice to be here. Nice to see so many familiar faces. I come back with fewer hair and more grey this year. So time has passed, but it’s been kind to me. It’s been a fantastic ride and I’m just glad to be back and I’m looking forward to performing this week. It’s an important week for me to play well.”

“The driver is I have to prove to myself that I can win again. It’s been a while and nobody feels that more than I do. So even though I’ve played 15, 16, years, I’m still as desperate to win this week as I was 10, 15 years ago. Because I have to prove it to myself. I don’t have to prove it to anybody else”,  Lahiri  told media persons ahead of the 57th staging of the Hero Indian Open which carries a record prize purse of USD 2.25 million.

Lahiri’s last global win came at this very event back in 2015 and a year later he was second. Since then, he has had countless second places, none more memorable than the runner-up finish at the PLAYERS Championship in 2022. 

Describing the ‘Hero Indian Open’ as the fifth Major, he recalled  “It’s really wonderful to be coming back, it’s a homecoming of every sort. It’s the National Open, I’ve been joking with some of my friends that it’s the fifth major and I’m finding it harder and harder to get into the majors, so I’m glad that I’m playing this week.”

He is currently 401st in world golf rankings and third amongst Indians. Shubhankar Sharma at 188th in the world and Gaganjeet Bhullar at 240th are ahead of him. India will get a maximum of two entries into the Olympics. 

The Olympic field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions. The IGF will utilise the official world golf rankings to create the Olympic Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility.

The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.

And that seems to be the goal for the entire field of 144 players. Ryder Cup start Colsaerts excited to return to India, thanks Munjal A little before Lahiri, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, a former Ryder Cup star, said he was excited to be here in India once again. His only previous visit was in 2017, when he finished T-60.

“I’m really excited to be here. It’s always great to come and play and support one of the Hero events. Obviously Dr. Pawan Munjal has been a great supporter of the sport and the European Tour. So I think out of respect, and also for the person and what he’s been able to do for the last couple of years, it’s the least we can do. And the golf course is quite a challenging one.”

“It’s nice to come to a place where I’ve not had the chance to come a lot. It’s definitely different and at my age, I find it quite fulfilling to come to a place that is a little bit different than usual. I am more grateful to come to these places that play the regular tournaments in Europe because of what they offer”, added Colsaerts. 

England’s Alex Fitzpatrick gave his campaign at the 2024 Hero Indian Open a winning start as he won the USD10,000 Hero Shot competition at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

The contest also included Anirban Lahiri, Shiv Kapur, Rasmus Højgaard, Yannik Paul, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Nicolas Colsaerts, Guido Migliozzi and Edoardo Molinari with Dr. Pawan Munjal, Executive Chairman, Hero MotoCorp, playing as an honorary entry in the first round.

The players were given 60 seconds to hit nine balls each at a target created on the 18th green of the DLF Golf and Country Club. All eight players were miked up to make it an interactive and fun event.

The shootout first eliminated Paul, Colsaerts, Lahiri and Kapur in the 100 yard contest. In the next stage, the semi-finals, Højgaard and Migliozzi were knocked out in the 110-yard contest, despite Højgaard having recorded a whopping 235 points in the first round.

In the final played at the 18th green target from a distance of 120 yards, Fitzpatrick outscored Molinari 100 points to 70.

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