Shanghai, Nov 4 (IANS) With the European and Asian season-end edging closer, India’s Anirban Lahiri will look to giving a boost to his world rankings at the $8.5 million World Golf Championship (WGC)-HSBC Champions starting here on Thursday. In the last 12 months, World No.39 Lahiri’s perspective towards the tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club has changed. Just 12 months ago, the 28-year-old was playing in his first World Golf Championship here. But fast forward to this week, he is arriving at Asia’s richest tournament on the back of a sensational season. The seven-time winner on the Asian Tour has virtually sealed the Order of Merit title and enjoyed two more Tour wins in Malaysia and India earlier in the year. He posted a top-five finish at the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Championship, earned his PGA Tour card in the United States and also became the first Indian to feature in The Presidents Cup last month. “Obviously, my focus has changed over the last few years. Last year, when I was here, it was very important for me to play well in this event because it was one of my first WGCs, and I was playing here for the first time,” Lahiri’s said in an Asian Tour release on Wednesday. “I’ve come back 12 months later having played every other WGC, won twice, got my card in America, and suddenly this event becomes critical for me in terms of how I reshuffle my schedule for America and my world rankings going into the end of the year,” added the Bengalurean. Lahiri finished tied 28th at the WGC-HSBC Champions last year but with the merit title almost in his hands, he is channelling his energy towards producing another fine showing — one that reinforces his status as one of Asia’s best players.
“I’m really happy with the position I’m in. Having finished third and second the last two years, it would be great to get over the line.” “It looks likely right now, but it would be a wonderful thing when and if that happens. I’m feeling positive and mentally there’s no lack of motivation as there’s a lot to play for,” added Lahiri. Lahiri is certainly playing like a man with experience, but he would love to be named Rookie of the Year in the European Tour. “In an ideal world, I would love to win at least one of these next three events,” he said.
“This week would be fantastic because it would count on every tour in the world. But it would be nice to finish as the Rookie of the Year. Although it wouldn’t really feel like I am a rookie. I have been playing for a long time now.” Lahiri will tee off alongside New Zealander Danny Lee and the US’ Kevin Kisner. Another Indian in the fray, S.S.P. Chawrasia will play alongside Matt Jones of Australia and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood. The WGC-HSBC Champions will feature close to 40 of the world’s top 50 players including World No.2 Jordan Spieth of the United States, No.3 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, and fellow top 10 stars — Rickie Fowler (5) and Henrik Stenson (7) as well as defending champion Bubba Watson (4).