Lahiri after one of last US Open spots
BY Bruce Young | 04 Jun 2014
Samui, Thailand, June 4: Indian star Anirban Lahiri hopes marital bliss will spur him to victory at this week’s Queen’s Cup and earn a ticket to the U.S. Open.
The current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, who tied the knot with sweetheart Ipsa Jamwal last week, can qualify for the year’s second Major with a triumph in the Asian Tour tournament which starts at Santiburi Samui Country Club on Thursday.
Following one victory and three other top-10s this season, the 26-year-old will start as one of the favourites as he also has an impressive track record here with four previous top-10s at a venue nicknamed the “Beast of Samui”.
A strong field which includes seven other players from the top-10 of the Order of Merit and leading Thais such as Thaworn Wiratchant, Prom Meesawat and Arnond Vongvanij stands in his way but Lahiri is determined to enjoy the week with his wife on the holiday isle of Samui.
“It’s nice to have her accompany me. Off the course, it’s a lot of fun. It’s very relaxing and it keeps me fresh and motivated on the course,” said Lahiri today.
“I think I probably need a win to get in (to the US Open) but I can’t get into an event thinking of trying to win for any other reason. I’ve not played much golf coming in, so I’m happy and have no expectations.”
Lahiri claimed his fourth Asian Tour victory at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters in April after a stunning final-hole eagle and currently sits in 72nd position on the Official World Golf Ranking. A victory in Samui, worth 14 world ranking points, should get him into the top-60 which is the cut-off to get into the U.S. Open in Pinehurst next week.
After the merriment of getting hitched, the talented Indian was happy to get back to his day job in the US$300,000 event. “It was a happy week, a busy week and a hectic week. Indian weddings are complicated affairs!” smiled Lahiri, who contributed two points in Asia’s dramatic draw with Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia in March.
“I was organising a lot it myself, with my friends and relatives helping out. Hardly had any time to breathe, haven’t had much sleep in the last 10 days. I’m looking forward to the afternoon tee offs here.
“This was the first cut I made outside of India back then. Since then, I’ve kind of settled in well in Samui and have enjoyed many top-10s. I love the place and it’s nice to be back. Hopefully we can get it done this week.”
Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh will be putting his close friendship aside with his EurAsia Cup partner Lahiri as he bids to win the Queen’s Cup, which is sponsored by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.
“My career started in Samui. Before I won in Brunei in 2010, I had my first top-10 on the Asian Tour here. I started to believe in myself that I could go far and won my next tournament in Brunei,” said Siddikur, whose straight-shooting game has earned him three top-10s in the Queen’s Cup.
“I’m happy with how my game has progressed. This year, I’ve had two runner-up finishes but also had two missed cuts. My game is there and I’m happy with where it is. This course suits my play. I like tight courses but the rough is up. It’s tougher than the past few years,” added the Bangladeshi who defeated Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher 4&3 in the EurAsia Cup singles.
Thai-based Korean Baek Seuk-hyun, fifth on the Order of Merit, hopes to overcome his fear of the Beast of Samui where he has missed two cuts in four appearances. “The views are nice although it’s a hard course to play on. It’s uphill, downhill and it’s so narrow. Then there is the wind to deal with as well. My record here is not really good but I’m always trying,” said Baek.
“I’m happy with my game. After my ankle injury in Malaysia, my swing is back. My confidence is also coming back,” added the 23-year-old, who is seeking a first victory on the Asian Tour.
Malaysia’s rising star Nicholas Fung hopes that using the new putting method of ‘Aim Point’ which is used by current world number one Adam Scott will see him contending in the Queen’s Cup where he finished equal 12th last season.
“It’s quite a complicated method and I’m still learning how to use it. It teaches you how to read the lines better. I think it can help but I need to master it. Adam Scott has been using this and Marcus Both used it to win in the Philippines,” said Fung.
“This course suits me as it’s not long. If I can putt well, I can do well. I’ve been hitting it great but my putting hasn’t been good.”
There is a large line-up of Australians in the field including Terry Pilkadaris, Uno Park, Matthew Stieger, Jake Higginbottom, Matthew Griffin, Cameron Smith, Dimi Papadatos, David Gleeson, Sam Brael, Kalem Richardson, Craig Hancok, Jack Munro and Blair Wilson.