Lahiri geared up to defend Venetican Macao Open golf title

Macao, Oct 13 (IANS) Indian star golfer Anirban Lahiri is aiming to successfully defend his title at the $1 million Venetian Macao Open starting here on Thursday, saying he has overcome his Presidents Cup heartbreak.

Lahiri, the current Asian Tour leader, was involved in three ties and lost all of them as his side — the International Team — was pipped by the United States by a point to retain the Cup.

“It was a disappointing result but it was certainly not a disappointment,” Lahiri, who missed a three-foot birdie putt for a half point that could have altered the end result of the Presidents Cup, reflected in an Asian Tour release on Tuesday.

“What we witnessed last week is exactly the nature of the sport. What I experienced was what Scott (Hend) had experienced here last year. We both hit good putts and it didn’ go in. Sometimes you’re on the receiving end. You take it in your stride and take whatever you need to do to get better.”

Lahiri revealed he slept easily on Sunday night knowing he had stuck to his process and routine before hitting his putt.

“Obviously, you reflect on it. I thought to myself ‘what did I do wrong’ and I couldn’t come up with an answer. If you can’t come up with an answer, you can sleep peacefully and I did,” said the world No.39.

“I followed my process, I was focused and I tried my heart out. I hit the shots exactly how I saw it, even with the last putt. There’s nothing I regret but I feel bad about it as the team had worked hard.”

After winning the Venetian Macao Open some 12 months ago, the 28-year-old Lahiri went on to win in Malaysia and India in February and has since enjoyed a magical season which included a top-five finish at the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Championship and earning a card on the PGA Tour in the US.

His goal now is to wrap up the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit title and join compatriots Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa as the only Indian golfers to have won the Merit list.

“It all started from here last year. It’s nice to go a full circle. I know what it feels like to defend. Now, I feel the game is coming to where it should be. I enjoy playing on this course and in the last few years, I’ve managed to find a really good rhythm here. I played nine holes this morning, and I really felt comfortable. I didn’t feel like I was coming back after a year. It felt like just yesterday, which is a good sign for me,” said the Bengalurean.

“This is the beginning of an important stretch, not just prize money but also for a lot of world rankings. There are guys who can make a serious move up on the Order of Merit. This is when you want to get on a roll and start playing your best hopefully.”

The Asian Tour event has attracted a stellar field. It includes four-time Major winner Ernie Els, 2013 champion Scott Hend, Chinese stars Liang Wen-chong and Zhang Lian-wei and eight of the current top-10 players from the Merit list.

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