LONDON Feb 23 (Reuters) – Three months after having to go to Qualifying School to earn his European Tour card, an excited Anirban Lahiri can look ahead to a season when he will compete in all four majors for the first time in his career.
Out of nowhere the 27-year-old Indian has rocketed to 34th in the world rankings after following his victory in the Malaysian Open two weeks ago by landing the co-sanctioned Indian Open title in New Delhi on Sunday.
“This is what dreams are made of,” Lahiri told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday. “You don’t expect this sort of thing to happen all the time.
“I wasn’t anticipating these two performances to come in such a rush. Malaysia was very special of course, achieving my first European Tour win and getting into the world’s top 50.
“Since then I’ve found it easier to play with a little more freedom.”
Lahiri, though, has a tendency to make a drama out of a crisis.
He had to sink a 40-foot putt at the 17th hole to edge out Austrian Bernd Wiesberger in Malaysia and his second European Tour win also came as a result of a moment of magic.
Lahiri chipped in for a par at the penultimate hole of regulation in New Delhi before going on to defeat countryman SSP Chawrasia in a playoff.
“That was quite a moment for me,” he laughed. “The 17th at the Delhi Golf Club is a short par-three but it had a wicked pin position at the back corner of the green.
“I pushed my tee shot, it got caught in the wind and my ball narrowly escaped going into the thorn bushes. It rested on some twigs and leaves and I didn’t really have a backswing because of the bushes so I just tried to bump it up on the green.
“I couldn’t get there in two and then chipped in from four or five yards off the green. I was three or four yards from being dead because Delhi is infamous for having big clumpy thorn bushes that you can’t even get near to — they are everywhere.”
Lahiri clearly likes to do things the hard way. Sunday’s victory was his fourth at the Delhi Golf Club and all of them have been in playoffs.
“I seem to attract a lot of drama whenever I win there, even my wins on the Asian Tour,” he said.
“My win at the Delhi Golf Club last year came after I eagled the last and won by one shot. Fortunately for me I’m able to extricate myself from a lot of these difficult situations.”
His experience at the European Tour’s six-round Qualifying School event in Spain in November provided further evidence of a steely nerve.
“I don’t know why I like making a habit of these dramatic finishes but I was pretty much cruising at Q School,” said Lahiri, who was speaking to Reuters in an interview arranged by club suppliers Srixon (www.srixon.co.uk).
“I led for two days and then I don’t know what happened in the last two and a half rounds because it was a struggle.
“Suddenly at the 13th on the last day I found myself one shot outside the qualifying spots. I had my back up against the wall so it was something very special to me that I could make two birdies and get myself over the line.
“It was the toughest stretch of the course and I played it in two-under-par.”
Q School may have been three months ago but it now appears light years away for Lahiri who is thrilled at the prospect of playing in this year’s U.S. Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and U.S. PGA Championship.
“There is so much to look forward to, the majors, the World Golf Championship events and I’m trying to get an invite to the Players Championship in Florida,” he said.
“The world has just opened up to me in the space of three weeks.” (Editing by Pritha Sarkar )
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