"At times I did it my way, the opposite of what my caddy said. It worked!" Anirban Lahiri
Anirban Lahiri talks to Damaru Golf after his win at the Maybank Malaysian Open Golf 2015
It was a tall order ending Day Two seeing Lee finishing with a 12-under and myself at 2-under. On Day Three I realized the hill is not really that steep. THAT WAS AFTER MY 10-UNDER FOR THAT DAY. The rest was a breeze.
Q: Were you interested in the scoring out there?
A: I was just trying to focus on getting off to a good start. That was the key yesterday to a low round. There are a lot of birdie opportunities early in the round and then you have some more towards the end – it’s the middle part of the golf course that’s hard to navigate. Luckily for me I made some good putts early in the round and I knew that if I played consistently and put some pressure on, maybe I would have a chance on the back nine. As it turned out, that’s what happened.
Q: What was going through your head on the 18th?
A: Well the 17th was a big boost for me. I missed some good opportunities on 15 and 16, so it was a very important putt and the shot of the day for me. On 18 I knew that I needed to keep it simple, hit the fairway, hit the green. I hit two brilliant golf shots, and as I was standing there I had to wait a while before I hit my third shot. I asked my caddie whether Bernd was 15 or 16 under, then there was an announcement at the back of the green. It broke my thought a bit and I backed off. Basically I tried to hit it too hard and got little tight on the swing. It was an embarrassing shot for television. But then when I got to the green my caddie told me Bernd had bogeyed 17, and I hit a good shot to hit it close. It was the best bunker shot of the week.
Q: It’s been a big few months for you, getting back your European Tour card then winning your first European Tour title.
A: Right now it sounds too good to be true. I was at Q-School three months back. 2012 and 2013 were frustrating for me because I felt like I was playing well enough to be on the European Tour full-time, but I wasn’t. It was a very important step when I went to Q-School. I think the best thing that happened to me was not getting into the last two events on The European Tour. I sat at home for two weeks knowing that the desert events are really good events played on great golf courses with lots of world ranking points. I sat at home thinking I should be out there competing. I think that put the fire in me and I just wanted to come out and take my opportunity. I said whatever I get I’m going to take, because I don’t want to be in this situation again. That was my attitude – just go out there and do whatever you have to. In hind sight it sounds very nice, but that’s how it turned out and I’m very happy.
Q: How did Vipassana meditation help you today?
A: A lot. I was taking lots of deep breaths – not just because of the situation but because of the hills as well. I was just trying to keep my heart rate in check. I’ve played enough being in contention to know that if I can control my heart rate, it’s easier to hit golf shots, so I do a lot of deep breathing and closing my eyes. You don’t really meditate but just observe what’s going on, what are you feeling, without judging yourself or thinking about an outcome. That obviously helps because it allows you to do instead of think.
Q: What are your plans?
A: It’s a little premature for me to take out my book and say my plans. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to see where I stand in the world rankings, and I’ll have a long chat with my manager to try to figure out how best to schedule the coming months. Now playing in the Masters is a realistic goal, so that’s definitely one of the things I’ll consider. There’ll be a lot of thinking, but I will definitely be back in Asia playing a few events here. I love playing the Asian Tour and I’ll continue to support it.
Q: Were you trying to make that putt on 17?
A: No. I’d just missed two good opportunities. I’d completely mis-read the line on the putt on 15 and my caddie advised me of the right line. Then on 16 I was pretty certain what the line was and he advised me of a different line, and it turned out I was right that time. So when I got to the 17th I said believe it what you see, believe you can make this putt and just hit it. I wasn’t thinking of lagging it or holing it, I just told myself as I walked up to it to believe that I can make it. And it went in. It wasn’t an easy putt and I would’ve been happy to make a four. I left the pin in because it was an uphill putt. Sometimes when you’re in that situation it’s very easy to have an adrenalin rush and it’s not uncommon to hit a firm putt. Also it was a fair distance away so I needed to see the hole
Q: How much of a boost was shooting 62 on Saturday?
A: Yesterday was the key, it was critical. Before the round I was two under par and the leaders were already at 12. So when you’re ten back after two days, you’re not really thinking about trying to win the tournament, you’re trying to get yourself back in the event by shooting six, seven, eight under. When I came out yesterday I was trying to get to double digits and you can still have a sniff. I started off hot – I was six under after nine holes – I looked up and I was already at eight under, so I think we can do better than ten and just see how deep we can go. Fortunately that’s something I’ve done a few times in the past – I’ve shot 60, 61, 62 numerous times before, so I have belief in myself that I can do it. On days like yesterday, everything you do works out – every putt you hit goes in, every shot you hit is perfect. You don’t overthink it, you just play, and luckily it turned out to be a fabulous day. If someone had told me in the morning I’d shoot 62, I’d probably have laughed.
Q: How does this win compared to your last five wins?
A: This is very special. Not because of money but because of line of o players.This is the sixth time I won and it is my first on the European Tour. I think that’s what makes it more special. The other thing that sets this win apart is that I finally won a big event. The first three events were US$300,000 events in India. They gave me a lot of joy and confidence. Without those wins, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wanted to win an event which is big, not just in prize money but in terms of the field. I played with Lee Westwood. Unfortunately he had a bad day. You are playing in the field with Major winners and you beat them. That is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
Q: How will this win inspire more golfers in India?
A: I’ve grown up watching Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa who are stalwarts for India. What I’ve done today is a first time for me but Arjun has won everywhere in the world. Jeev has won multiple times in Europe and Asia. It is very special to join them. It is a good sign for Indian golf because there is a new generation of golfers aspiring to do this. It is not only me, you have Gaganjeet, Rashid and Chikka S, who has done well at home. It is good that we are taking that baton over and achieve what they have.
Q: Will your win encourage more people to come to Malaysia to play golf?
A: Malaysia is a very popular destination. Thailand and Malaysia are probably neck-to-neck when it comes to the number of Indian golfers who come to Malaysia and play golf. You have so many golf