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Golf: Captain Price values India’s Lahiri as a Presidents Cup ‘asset’

Anirban Lahiri lies fifth in the International Team standings for October’s Presidents Cup. Photo: Asian Tour.

Anirban Lahiri lies fifth in the International Team standings for October’s Presidents Cup in Korea. Photo: Asian Tour.

March 6, 2015: Nick Price believes Anirban Lahiri, the current Asian Tour No. 1, would be an asset to his International Team if the Indian qualifies to face the USA in October’s Presidents Cup in South Korea.

 

Price started following Lahiri’s rapid rise since the middle of last year when the India No. 1 made his way up the Official World Golf Ranking and consequently the International Team standings.

 

Lahiri is currently World No. 35 and fifth on the International Team list, one place ahead of Thai star  Thongchai Jaidee, the World No. 38.

 

Lahiri and Thongchai are bidding to become the first players from their countries to play in the biennial team competition, with Price saying he has kept a particularly close watch on the fast-rising Indian.

 

“I had been keeping an eye on the World Ranking. Every Monday I see who is moving. I spoke to him (Lahiri) last year because he had moved up to I think about 15th or 16th on the International points list,” said Price, who was speaking at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Doral, where Lahiri is making his tournament debut.

 

“I knew he was playing well and I had seen his form, so I chatted to him a little bit. Then I just sent him an e‑mail after he won in Malaysia, which was a pretty strong win, the way he played at the end. And then winning in Delhi, I also watched that.”

 

In the space of three weeks last month, Lahiri won the Maybank Malaysian Open and the Hero Indian Open, both events co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours. He has now won four times on the Asian circuit in the span of 10 months.

 

Lahiri has also proven himself in matchplay. At the inaugural EurAsia Cup, which pitted Asia against Europe last March, Lahiri was a central figure in the team’s fightback to force a thrilling 10-10 draw.

 

In the second day’s fourball, he holed a crucial six-foot putt on the last hole to ensure a win with Siddikur Rahman, giving Asia the momentum going into the final-day singles, when he subsequently defeated Victor Dubuisson.

 

Price, 58, reckons the 27-year-old’s ability to hole big putts is one of his greatest assets. At last year’s CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, Lahiri holed a 25-foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole to win by one stroke. Last month, he rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt at the 71st hole to win the Malaysian Open and two weeks later he chipped in for par on the 71st hole to stay in the lead at the Indian Open, which he won in a playoff.

 

“I think he’s a great putter,” said Price, a former World No. 1 and three-time major winner. “All these guys out here hit the ball really well, but he looks like he can make a big putt on a big occasion. Certainly that’s what he has shown us or what I’ve seen on TV over the last couple of months. But he’s very calm, collected, and I think he’s going to be an asset to our team.

 

“I spoke to him yesterday, but he appeared on my radar last year and I think he’s a very competent player. He just needs to play decently the next two or three months and I think he’s going to be a lock on the team, which is going to be great for us and for India. I think it’s going to be groundbreaking for him to be on the team.”

 

Lahiri took Price’s stamp of approval in his stride, although he has been lamenting about his putting in recent months.

 

“It’s funny because up until a few months back I thought that putting was one of the weak links in my game,” Lahiri said.

 

“But I think I’ve worked on the mental aspect of putting and it’s kind of improving. I still don’t think I’m a fabulous putter, but a lot of people tell me that I can putt, so I think I should start believing them.”

 

Lahiri is currently ranked behind Australian duo Jason Day and Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa in the International Team standings.

 

Source: Asian Tour (www.asiantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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