Golfer Lahiri believes Asia will win EurAsia Cup

Shah Alam (Malaysia), Nov 27 (IANS) Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is ready to help Team Asia trump Europe in the second edition of the EurAsia Cup from January 15 to 17, saying last season’s inaugural edition provided the springboard to his rapid rise.

Lahiri, the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit champion-elect and World No.41, has locked his place in the 12-man squad which will be captained by compatriot Jeev Milkha Singh at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club here.

The 26-year-old delivered two points for Asia in the inaugural edition last year which included a 2&1 singles victory over Frenchman Victor Dubuisson. Asia rallied to force a thrilling 10-10 draw with Europe, who led by 5-0 after winning the opening day’s Fourball session.

“The first EurAsia Cup meant a lot to me and it was a very important event in my career. It really helped my confidence and it was my first taste of team golf at the highest level. I have great memories of it, it was such a fantastic week and I can’t wait to go back. This time, we want to keep the EurAsia Cup in Asia,” said Lahiri on Friday.

He has vivid memories of his second day’s Foursomes match with partner Siddikur Rahman against Joost Luiten and Dubuisson. With Asia rallying after the first day’s demolition, Lahiri holed a pressure-packed six foot par putt on the 18th green in the last match of the day to seal a one-hole win and put Asia 3-7 closer to Europe.

“My favourite memory was probably the match with Siddikur. It came down to the last hole and I had to make a six-footer to win our match and it was a really important putt as the team needed that point desperately. It was a fantastic moment. Sunday was also special but in terms of what that point did for us on Saturday, it was very important. Without that point, Sunday would have been harder,” said Lahiri.

“After the first day, a lot of people had written us off. There was a lot of talk and hype in the media which wasn’t very positive. It was a key moment for us on that final day to get the tie which was very important. The atmosphere in the team room on Sunday evening was fantastic. It felt like a victory, having come back from where we started. It was a massive team effort. Every player contributed. Every player put his heart out on the line and that was what made the week the most special.”

He believes his singles triumph over Dubuisson, who was then fresh from a runner-up finish at the WGC Match Play event, reinforced the self-belief that he could match the world’s best.

A few weeks after the EurAsia Cup, Lahiri won his first title outside India at the Indonesian Masters before adding another triumph at the Macao Open. He maintained his form by winning the Malaysian Open and Indian Open in February to break into the world’s top-50 for the first time and also represented the Internationals in the Presidents Cup. He also enjoyed a top-five at the PGA Championship.

Lahiri said the pressure of playing for a team was different.

“You’re not playing for yourself. A lot of times, you’re playing to the strengths of your partner, especially when you’re playing foursomes. It’s also a lot more aggressive than you would play in strokeplay. Emotions are different too,” he said.

EurAsia Cup will feature 24 matches, with day one showcasing six Fourball matches, followed by six Foursomes matches and 12 Singles matches on the third day. The winning team will share prize money of $3.6 million while the runners-up will share $1.2 million.

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