Seoul, Korea: Presidents Cup International Team captain Nick Price believes Anirban Lahiri, the current Asian Tour number one, will be an asset to his squad that will face the United States in the Korean capital in October.
Price started following Lahiri’s rise last year when the Indian made his way up the International Team rankings, which is based on the Official World Golf Ranking [OWGR].
“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 about 15th or 16th on the international points list. I knew he was playing well,” said the Zimbabwean.
“I chatted to him a little bit and then I sent him an e‑mail after he won in Malaysia, which was a pretty strong win. And then winning in Delhi the next week, I also watched that.”
With four wins on the Asian Tour in a span of 10 months, which included victories at the Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open, both co-sanctioned with Europe, Lahiri rose to 35th on the OWGR and currently sits in fifth position on the International Team list for the Presidents Cup.
Price reckons the Indian golfer’s ability to hole big putts is one of his greatest assets.
At the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters last year, the 27-year-old Indian holed an eagle from 25 feet on the 72nd hole to win by one stroke and also rolled in a 50-foot birdie at the 71st hole en route to winning last month’s Maybank Malaysian Open. He also chipped-in for par on the 71st hole which kept him in the lead at the Hero Indian Open, which he won in a play-off.
Meanwhile, 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 10-10 draw, holing a six-foot putt on the last hole to ensure a win with Siddikur Rahman in the second day’s fourball. In the final-day singles, Lahiri beat Frenchman Victor Dubuisson.
Price said: “I think he’s a great putter. I think he hits the ball really well. But looks like he can make a big putt on a big occasion. Certainly that’s what he’s shown us or what I’ve seen on TV over the last couple of months. But very calm, collected, and I think he’s going to be an asset to our team.
“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 a certain ground-breaking for him to be on the team.”
Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee, ranked 38th in the world, is also in line to make the International Team.
If they qualify, Lahiri and Thongchai will become the first Indian and Thai respectively to play in the biennial team competition.
The cut-off for qualifying is September 8. The Presidents Cup will be played at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon from October 8-11.
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