The chance to compete with the best at the prestigious U.S. Open will add impetus to Anirban Lahiri’s campaign at the ICTSI Philippine Open, which starts on May 15 at Manila.
Lahiri requires a top-three finish at Manila to qualify for the U.S. Open — one of the premier events in the sport.
India’s highest-ranked golfer, in fact, made a late entry into the ICTSI Philippine Open to stay in the hunt. “Initially, I was not scheduled to play at Manila, but I decided to compete because it gave me a chance to qualify for the U.S. Open,” the world no. 65 told The Hindu here on Friday.
The strong field, however, will pose a challenge. With the likes of Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng (an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour), reigning Indian Open champion Siddikur Rahman (Bangladesh) and home-town favourite Angelo Que in the race, Lahiri is aware that he has his task cut out. “There is huge competition on the Asian Tour; anybody can take the title. I will have to play some of my best golf to do well,” he said. Unlike the British Open, where golfers have a chance to enter the field through a round of qualifiers, the field at the U.S. Open is decided purely on world rankings. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity. Just to be in this position, where my ranking alone allows me to fight for a U.S. Open spot is tremendous,” he said.
Lahiri remarked that his victory at the Indonesian Masters two weeks ago — his first title outside India — gave him a sense of “relief”.
“I did not obsess over the fact that I had won three Asian Tour titles in India, but none abroad. This idea was built up by the media and by people around me.
“I did not pay it much attention at first, but when you hear it over and over again, it starts to play on your mind. When I eventually got over the hurdle, it was a relief,” he said.