Anirban Lahiri Blog: Aiming to get the first win on PGA Tour
By Anirban Lahiri
I’ve already played four events during the fall season and got off to a decent start. However, that feels like a long time ago when you take four to five weeks off at the end of the year. It’s like a new start. I spent the off season in India, which I haven’t been back home for an extended period of time since we left for the United States in early 2016.
I arrived home in late November and spent time with my parents, took a little holiday and one of my cousins also got married. It was nice to be a part of that celebration as I’m usually the odd one missing. It was quite a hectic 45 days at home where I was at five different cities meeting up with people. When I boarded the flight to Malaysia (for the EurAsia Cup) in early January, I was already home sick as India will always be my home.
More importantly, I got to spend time with my coach Vijay Divecha and with the big changes that have happened, we put in a lot of work. I’ve been with Srixon for the first 10 years of my golf career and to now move to Callaway was something I had to think through carefully. My team and coach decided to test out a few things, and I was pleasantly surprised with the equipment Callaway has to offer. Moving to their golf ball was a big factor, and I was amazed at how good the new 2018 ball, the Chrome Soft X, performs.
Switching to 13 new clubs in the bag is a big change and a large part of my offseason was spent with Vijay at his new academy in Ahmedabad. We tested the new equipment and tried to get used to it in different conditions. I’m excited. I was very nervous at the start to be honest, but the results have been pleasing. I’m really excited to see how these clubs perform under pressure.
This year, I would have already played most of the golf courses on the PGA TOUR, and it definitely helps when you’re going back to a venue for the second or third time. I’m also feeling more at home with everything else, with the players and how things work.
Being able to get into some of the pro-ams during the fall events helped. In the first two years, I’ve been flying out on Sunday nights or Monday mornings to squeeze in practice rounds as I’m not in a lot of pro-ams, which makes the week a lot longer. I’ve played one less day in a week during the first four events of our new season which helps manage my time and energy better.
My wife Ipsa and I have bought a home at West Palm on PGA National in Florida. It was a natural decision as this is the tour I want to play on, and this is going to be my home tour. I thought I better commit to it by having a home in America. It’s been an interesting first two years, and an interesting journey especially when you are travelling with five big suitcases and a golf bag for the first few months in the U.S. Having a home gives you a sense of tranquillity and a sense of ease. Mentally and psychologically, it’s very important to say this is where I’m going to play for the rest of my life, so I need to be here. It’s a big step.
One of the targets which I’ve not achieved yet is to get my first win on the PGA TOUR. This is overdue and it is definitely something which is on top of the list. Getting that win will enable the other targets to come to fruition on their own. I’ve come close, but I have not been in contention often enough. It’s been few and far in between. I haven’t performed the way I usually do or know I can under those circumstances, which I would say comes down to not putting myself in contention enough. Vijay and I have spent some time discussing that and the goal in 2018 is to get into the last three or four groups on at least four, five or six Sundays in every 10 events. Then you can convert one.
Regardless of which tour you’re playing on, when you’re in contention, there’s only one way to win which is whatever you need to play to win in different circumstances. You either have to play ultra-aggressively, play defensively or just play your usual golf if you’ve got a big lead. At the end of the day, you have to respond to the situation at hand and you’ve got to put yourself in different situations often enough. I’ve not done it enough, and that part of the game becomes rusty if you don’t get into contention enough. It’ll be a matter of time before I convert.
You’re always learning when you’re out competing against the best. I feel terrible with the way I finished in Korea (CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in October). I was leading by one with six to play but I finished really weak. That’s something which I didn’t enjoy. That’s going to drive me to get back into that position and have a different outcome. It was nice to get in contention, with Leish (Marc Leishman) and JT (Justin Thomas) and all the big guns and vying to win. It was important to put myself in that position as I know I can be in that position in more weeks than not if I play to my capabilities.
I discuss a lot of things with Vijay all the time. When we get our credentials from the TOUR, he gets an “Instructor” credential and we laugh about it as he’s not just my instructor, he’s my coach. He guides me. I can talk to him about anything, not just about the golf swing.
How I am mentally affects how I swing it and I discuss these things with him. It helps as he knows me inside out. You can lose some perspective, and he provides me with perspective. Out here, the guy who thinks clearly executes better, and he’s more likely to win. It’s your thinking that can get muddled. There are times when I’ve responded well and that was a time (in Korea) where I didn’t respond well. The best players in the world perform and react positively in those situations more consistently. That’s what I’m trying to get to.
(Anirban Lahiri will be writing a quarterly blog. He will tee it up in his first PGA TOUR tournament of 2018 at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course this week. The Indian star resumes his 2017-18 season after featuring in four events in the fall where he enjoyed a T10 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, T5 at CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in South Korea, T51 at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open and T14 at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He is currently ranked 43rd on the FedExCup standings. Blog courtesy: PGA Tour Media)