Gurugram, 26-03-2024

Hungry Lahiri looks forward to Hero Indian Open 2024

Anirban Lahiri does not hide that he is ‘hungry’ and ‘desperate’ to win, as he gets ready to tee up at the Hero Indian Open this week. Returning to the event which provided him his last worldwide win back in 2015, Lahiri was happy to be back ‘home’ but is keen to prove to himself, more than anyone else, that he still has what it takes to win.

“You know the weight of, I don't know how many dozens of seconds, I've had, lays heaviest on my shoulders. So I need to get that off my back. I want to win, I am desperate to win,” declared Lahiri, who missed the event last year. “The driver is I have to prove to myself that I can win again. It's been a while and nobody feels that more than I do. So even though I've played 15, 16, years, I'm still as desperate to win this week as I was 10, 15 years ago. Because I have to prove it to myself. I don't have to prove it to anybody else", said Lahiri ahead of the 57th staging of the Hero Indian Open which carries a record prize purse of USD 2.25 million.

The 2024 edition is one of the strongest with almost a third of the players in 144-strong field having won on the DP World at some point. The winner will receive a handsome USD 382,500, the runner-up picking up USD 247,500 and the third-place finisher pocketing USD 141,750.

Lahiri’s last global win came at this very event back in 2015 and a year later he was second. Since then he has had countless second places, none more memorable than the runner-up finish at the PLAYERS Championship in 2022. Calling the ‘Hero Indian Open’ as the fifth Major, Lahiri was not short on humour as he said, “It's really wonderful to be coming back, it's a homecoming of every sort. It's the National Open, I've been joking with some of my friends that it's the fifth major and I'm finding it harder and harder to get into the majors, so I'm glad that I'm playing this week.”

The two-time Olympian Lahiri called ‘Olympics’ as an unfinished business. He laughed and said, “I have had two shots at it. I have a whole list of excuses for why I didn't play well, like every professional athlete."

“It's like a major championship, right? You want to have as many starts at majors as possible to contend and to win. So it's the same thing. The Olympics are fewer and much further in between. So I don't know where my goal for the world of golf will be four years from now. So I need to focus on, as I said, potentially eight rounds or 12 rounds that I have between now and Paris that will get me there. I want to just focus on the Olympics.”

Lahiri is currently 401st in world golf rankings and third amongst Indians. Shubhankar Sharma at 188th in the world and Gaganjeet Bhullar at 240th are ahead of him. India will get a maximum of two entries into the Olympics. The Olympic field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions. The IGF will utilise the official world golf rankings to create the Olympic Golf Rankings as a method of determining eligibility.

The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.

Amidst aiming for a third Olympic start and ending a nine-year-long title drought, Lahiri said, “It's really wonderful to be coming back, it's a homecoming of every sort. It's fantastic at DLF, I was just telling my caddie who's come here for the first time from the US that the first time I played here was in 1999 as a 12 year old. So it goes back down memory lane a long time. So it's fun to be back, nice to be here. Nice to see so many familiar faces. I come back with fewer hair and more grey this year. So time has passed, but it's been kind to me. It's been a fantastic ride and I'm just glad to be back and I'm looking forward to performing this week. It's an important week for me to play well.”


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