India’s Anirban Lahiri will look to putting a fresh lease of life into his golfing season when he tees off at the 80th Masters here on Thursday.
Lahiri, who has been playing at the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour in the United States for the first time as a full-term player, hasn’t had the start he wanted. The 28-year-old has only one top-25 finish in 10 tournaments.
In the Asian Tour, he failed to defend his Indian Open title, finishing third in New Delhi. Recently, he disappointed his fans by missing the cut at the Houston Open recently and a good performance at the Augusta National Golf Club will add a zing to his campaign.
Moreover, a stage as big as the Masters — year’s first Major — can easily motivate a player and for Lahiri, the World No.51 can’t afford to continue his average season. He had finished tied 49th and going by the calibre Lahiri possesses, there is no reason why he can’t improve on it.
For the first two rounds, Lahiri will tee off alongside World No.24 Jimmy Walker and No.44 Soren Kjeldsen.
Among the favourites, United States sensation and No.2 Jordan Spieth opens his title defence will play his first two rounds with No.25 Paul Casey and amateur Bryson DeChambeau.
Among the other big names, Zach Johnson, British Open winner in 2015, will go out with Rickie Fowler and amateur Cheng Jin, while 2013 edition champion Adam Scott will pair up with Kevin Kisner and Brooks Koepka.
Two-time winner in 2012 and 2014, Bubba Watson, No.13 Branden Grace and Ian Poulter are also paired up together, while 2015 PGA winner and No.1 Jason Day, Matt Kucher and Ernie Else tee off at the same time.
The final group of the first round is Martin Kaymer, Bill Haas and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who is bidding the title to complete a career Slam.
“I definitely feel like I’m a good enough player to win here,” McIlroy said. “I feel I’ve got everything I need to do that. I’ve got a great game for the course. I hit the ball high. I land it soft. I’ve got decent touch around the greens,” the 26-year-old added.
Australian Day, a hot favourite, however declined to name the favourites. “There’s a lot of people out there that can play well this week and win,” he said.
“Jordan, Rory and Henrik (Stenson), how he’s playing lately, and even Phil (Mickelson) is a favourite here. There’s so many players that can win around here, and there’s not just one heavy favourite this week. I think it’s good for the game of golf, and I think it’s good for this tournament.”