Indian golfer Lahiri confident ahead of The Masters

Houston, April 2 (IANS) Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is looking forward to his second appearance at The Masters Tournament, saying his debut last year has prepared him for the challenge next week.

The reigning Asian Tour number one, who will be the only Indian playing at The Masters, finished tied 49th last year and is excited to return to the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.

“The Masters is one event where you want to keep going back for the rest of your life. I love the golf course. I think it is set up beautifully with the way I play and how I shape the ball,” Lahiri said in an Asian Tour release on Saturday.

“Last year was obviously a big learning experience. I’ve never played in conditions like that. It is a one of a kind golf course. I’m very excited and looking forward to it. Hopefully I can back up a better performance this year,” he added.

Lahiri, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour, recalled his debut last year vividly and hoped to put on a strong performance against the elite field. A tied-fifth finish at the 2015 PGA Championship has also given him the belief that he can challenge for the Major glory.

“It is brilliant playing at Augusta. The atmosphere is unique. I was the only Indian playing last year and looks like I’ll be the only Indian again this year. A lot of expatriate Indians and people from India came out there to watch and support me. It is a very special feeling.

“When you are at Augusta and representing your country at the highest stage, it inspires you and it is a phenomenal feeling,” said Lahiri, ranked 50th in the world.

After playing in all Major and World Golf Championship (WGC) tournaments last year, Lahiri felt comfortable ahead of The Masters where he will be joined by Thai stalwarts Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

“I’ve got to a stage when I’m not thinking about the stature of the event. Obviously the Majors and WGCs outrank the rest but when you play enough of them week in and week out, it nullifies the awe effect.

“I’m beginning to get to that stage where I know how it works, where to go and I’ve played on some of the courses before. I know what I want to eat at Augusta, I know the menu. When you know these little things that make you comfortable, it helps you relax and that’s when you play your best,” he said.

Golfer Chikka shares lead at Charming Yeangder

Miaoli (Chinese Taipei), April 2 (IANS) India’s rising golfer S. Chikka extended his bogey-free streak to 54 holes after signing for a six-under 66 to share the penultimate round lead with local hero Lin Wen-tang at the $150,000 Charming Yeangder on Saturday.

Chikka, chasing for a third victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and a first outside of India, fired six birdies to lead by two shots on 17-under 199 alongside Lin, who returned with a flawless 65, at the National Golf and Country Club.

ADT Order of Merit 2014 champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand matched Chikka’s efforts for the day to sit in third place on his own while compatriot Phachara Khongwatmai (65) and American Johannes Veerman (68) shared fourth on 203.

Chikka was delighted to maintain his hot streak where he set a new personal record by not dropping a single shot after 54 holes.

“I am really happy with this new record. It has been going really well for me. I hope I can continue the good run tomorrow. I am hitting it good and putting it good. It’s going to be another day for me. Hopefully I can have another big round again,” said the 22-year-old Bengalurean.

“I really enjoyed playing with Lin. I learnt a lot from him. The weather was so good and I just had so much fun out there. Lin and I were playing shot by shot and we made birdies after birdies. It was a great experience playing alongside such an accomplished golfer like Lin,” added Chikka.

Lin, who opened his campaign with a 63, credited his hot putter for a flawless round which put him back on track for a third victory on the region’s burgeoning Tour.

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