PGA Tour regular Anirban Lahiri returned home after a year to participate in, what he considers, the ‘Fifth Major -- the Indian Open golf tournament -- for all Indian golfers.
The 31-year-old had won the 2015 Indian Open and went on to emerge as Asian Tour Order of Merit champion the same year. Lahiri has an enviable track record at the National Open having posted six top-5s in his last nine appearances.
However, Lahiri, currently 185 in the world rankings, did not have the best of seasons on the PGA Tour last year. The two-time International team member of the Presidents Cup is looking for a revival of fortune with an inspiring performance at the world-class DLF Golf & Country Club.
"It's always wonderful to be back home. Every time I come back, I have happy memories, having played well in this tournament for a number of years. I always look forward to playing my national Open as it is like a ‘Fifth Major' for all of us Indian golfers," Lahiri said.
"My game has been a bit inconsistent, but it is moving in the right direction. I've had a couple of bad weekends. I have singled out the problems that need to be fixed. I just need to pull it together and stay focused. It feels like I'm in that place where my game can just take off," he said.
European Tour regular Shubhankar Sharma, India's highest ranked golfer at 122, will be eager to go one better than his previous performance at the Open when he narrowly missed out on a win after taking the joint-lead into the final round. But struggled to a 75 to end up in tied-seventh.
Incidentally, 22-year-old Sharma had also set the course record last year with his second round of eight-under-64. He has been striving to get his game back on track in recent months as his last top-10 on the international stage came as far back as November 2018.
Sharma, the youngest Indian to play all four major championships in a single season in 2018, has the opportunity to turn it around in familiar conditions. "This was my home course for the longest time and it feels great to be back on familiar grounds," he said.
"Obviously, last year a lot of things were happening. I flew in straight from Mexico and then right after I flew to The Masters. I had to deal with jetlag and amidst all that I was still able to shoot the course record and do pretty well. I am a lot more relaxed this time around and more focused. This year will be different," Sharma said.