India's Lahiri is one in 1.25 billion

By Rex HoggardMay 5, 2016, 9:53 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – He grew up a batsman/wicket-keeper, which for those who aren’t cricket savvy is akin to a hard-hitting catcher in baseball. He embraced yoga years ago and practices Vipassana meditation three to four times a week.

If that doesn’t sound like the blueprint for a modern PGA Tour professional, consider Anirban Lahiri the exception to nearly every cherished rule of grooming a singularly focused and driven athlete.

For Lahiri, who is one shot off the lead at the Wells Fargo Championship after a flawless 6-under 66, the sum of his unique parts begins in India where he grew playing cricket, like a large portion of the country’s 1.25 billion citizens.

At age 8, his father, an officer in the army, introduced him to golf, which wasn’t exactly an easy or effortless endeavor.

“I would probably say Palm Springs [Calif.] and Florida, by themselves, have more tournament courses than all of India put together,” he said. “Just to give you perspective, it's not that big.”

Yet while golf may be a small fish in India’s large cricket-dominated pond, Lahiri is a big deal back home.

Last year he posted the best finish by an Indian in a major when he tied for fifth place at the PGA Championship, and became the first from his country to play in the Presidents Cup.

Where some see a 28-year-old global journeyman, back home in Bangalore he’s a bona fide trailblazer after grinding his way through the Tour finals series to earn his Tour card for this season.

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Everything about Lahiri is different from the Tour’s rank and file – he's soft-spoken, modest and, above all else, thankful for this and every opportunity he’s been given.

Even his Tour status is more complicated than those he’s competing against. As a member of the 2015 Tour graduating class he struggles to get into many of the regular events, but his position in the World Golf Ranking (55th) has given him spots in all three of this season’s World Golf Championships and the Masters.

He considers himself a rookie despite 15 international victories, and although he’s gotten off to a slow start in his Tour career (he has just one top-25 finish in 12 events this season), Lahiri feels like he’s making progress in his transition to the United States.

He recently set up a home base in the U.S. with his wife, Ipsa, moving into a new house the week after the Masters at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“It was something that was needed. It’s not easy hauling 250 pounds around every week in luggage,” said Lahiri, who played tournaments in 2015 in the United Arab Emirates, China, Malaysia, Korea, France and, of course, India.

Learning the game in such a relatively undeveloped golf nation would be considered a liability for most aspiring professionals, but Lahiri wears it like a badge of honor.

“It's not just India, there's a lot of countries which are not huge on golf, but obviously there's going to be a few of us who love the sport enough and want to work hard enough and dream big enough to want to come here and play here and try to win events,” he said. “I think I'm just one of those guys. We are a minority but there's a few of us.”

That kind of clarity of thought could only come through meditation, right?

Players often talk about playing for their countries, particularly this year with the approaching Olympic Games, but Lahiri knows every week he tees it up he’s playing for 1.25 billion back home in India. It’s a perspective that brings into sharp focus the ongoing narrative the last few weeks as one player after another his withdrawn from Olympic consideration.

Lahiri, who is a lock to represent India in this year’s Games, had a slightly different take when asked his thoughts on this year’s Games.

“It would be huge,” Lahiri said. “How many people watch the Olympics in India? I would say eight or nine out of 10 people. How many people watch the Masters or the Open Championship? Probably one out of 100.

“Just in terms of eyeballs, just in terms of popularity, in terms of just making people aware of the sport or having the government take a stronger initiative to promote the sport, it would be massive. I think the Olympics is a huge stage for India in terms of golf.”

Lahiri began practicing Vipassana meditation when he was 17 at the urging of his parents. He said it helps him to keep things in perspective.

“I wish I could do it every day. That’s the goal - it’s the same as working out. You want to work out every day but you can’t. With meditation it really keeps me quite stable and calm,” he said.

Loosely translated, Vipassana meditation means to see things as they really are. In the case of Lahiri that’s an uncommonly calm and committed aspiring Tour professional.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.