Dubai: Following his breakthrough year on the European Tour, India’s Anirban Lahiri is now targeting victory in any of the Majors or the World Golf Championships (WGC) in order to inspire the next generation of Indian talent.
The 28-year-old from Pune won both the Malaysian and Indian Opens in February before registering a tied for fifth place finish at the US PGA Championship in August — which is an Indian record highest Majors finish beating Jeev Milkha Singh’s tied for ninth place finish at the same event in 2008.
But despite two wins and a total five top-10 finishes this season, putting him in contention for the Rookie of the Year award, he’s still looking for more. “Hopefully, I can kick on from how I’ve done this year, continue to perform — especially in the big events like the Majors and the WGCs — and win some events on a global stage,” he said in an interview arranged in association with Rolex on the sidelines of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
“That will make a difference to golf in India because we’ve always needed someone to win a Major, a WGC or something at that level.
“Jeev has won in Europe and Japan many times and Arjun Atwal has won in America,” he added of India’s elder statesmen. “All of us younger pros — the next generation so to speak — have been inspired by that and my dream would be to go that one step further and try and win one of the Majors or the WGCs.”
Asked if he could take Milkha Singh’s mantle as the flagbearer of Indian golf, Lahiri replied: “Jeev is somebody I really looked up to as a kid and someone who has inspired an entire generation of golfers in India. He has been the flag bearer for a very long time.
“I’ve had a great two years, but the true test for me is how I handle myself and play over the next decade. It’s a great honour and privilege when I get asked that question because, even to be asked it, you’ve obviously done something positive for that to happen. That’s a really good sign for me, but I still think that my best golf is ahead of me.”
And for the future of Indian golf he said there was great potential. “We have got a lot of kids who play cricket at a young age, so that sets up your hand-eye coordination pretty well,” he added. “The talent pool is massive and the potential is huge. That’s why you see that all of the youngsters that are coming through now are despite the system, not because of it. Even if we can get a five to 10 per cent improvement in that system, we’ll see a lot more kids coming through.”