Witty, Calm, Respectful: Golfer Anirban Lahiri is Doing 30 Right
Don’t know what I would’ve done if I went for the US Open: Anirban Lahiri in an exclusive interview with The Quint.
It has been a season of landmarks for Anirban Lahiri. Ten years as a professional, a life-time best finish on the PGA Tour, and a year of ‘growing’ – Literally.
He turns ‘Three-O’ on 29 June. The 20s are now behind him and he is now in the prime of his life. He is also in the right place – both physically and mentally.
Those who know him on the PGA Tour, or for that matter on any other Tour, are all praise for him. They consider him not just a great ambassador for Indian or Asian golf, but for the sport itself.
Perfectly turned out, witty at most times, serious about his golf and yet equipped with the ability to take a crack at himself – in short, completely sorted in life.
Lahiri is also his own harshest critic. He constantly pushes himself. Yet, he is patient to the extent of ‘willing to let go’ of an ‘assured money event’ or even a Major.
But the Lahiri we now know now is not the Lahiri he was when he first began playing the game seriously. I have been privileged to see him from close quarters for 12 years – the last couple of seasons as an amateur and then through his entire professional career, which kick-started in 2007.
Even then, he had many qualities that set him apart. He was articulate, good at his interpersonal relations and most respectful of all around him, even his rivals. But patience and a sense of calm was yet to figure prominently in that list. He recently revealed:
I would get angry and even throw clubs at times, but that was in the past.
He was India’s top amateur and represented the country at virtually all major amateur events. He even won a silver medal as part of the team in the 2006 Asian Games. But the most striking quality about Lahiri is his calm nature and his ability to see the path he plans for himself.
No longer was he trying to cram events into his schedule. He wanted time to play tournaments and time to improve and iron out the wrinkles that creep in with successive weeks of play. When he was injured, he give himself time to recover. He was no longer stuffing events into his schedule, even when he had goals like Majors or Presidents Cup or ranking landmarks.
Earlier this year, even when he was close to qualifying for the Masters (he ultimately did not), he did not take on more events.
When you start as a rookie, you try to chase your card, and when you are a regular, you’re trying to chase your first win, and then the erder of merit. There’s always something to chase. I’ve got to a point where I’m trying to play my best golf. If that means I have to hold myself back from chasing things down, I will do that. I believe I am good enough to get into these events as long as I can play to my potential.Anirban Lahiri
He was disappointed at missing the Masters – the first Major he had missed after playing the previous 10 in a row.
So much so, he did not even watch the first two days. “I didn't watch Thursday and Friday. It was very hard for me to watch, honestly. I played the last two years. And it was difficult. I tried to drown myself in work Thursday and Friday. But everybody shuts down on the weekend so I watched some golf,” he revealed.
Then came a stretch that was the hardest this season – probably the hardest of his PGA Tour career. From mid-March at Arnold Palmer, a week after he finished Tied-5th at Hero Indian Open, he missed four cuts in six starts. He was T-44 (RBC Heritage) and T-72 (Texas Open) in other two and his ranking had dropped to 90th.
Yet he stayed calm. That’s when he decided that after the Memorial, he would go in for Vipassana meditation.
However, the US Open was scheduled for the week after the Memorial. Lahiri almost qualified for it with a stunning round of seven-under 65, which almost won him his maiden PGA Tour title.
Everyone expected him to go for the Sectional qualifiers for US Open. But then he revealed:
I’m not qualifying. I pulled out of that about a week ago.
Instead, he went to the Vipassana Meditation Centre in Shelburne Falls in Massachusetts to attend a session he had scheduled.
He said, “You go to the centre for ten days, you switch your phones off. There is no TV, you're not allowed to read. You're meditating. You're not allowed to talk. So there is like complete silence for nine and a half days or so, and you're meditating 10-12 hours a day. It's not just a walk in the park. You're actually doing work, and working on improving yourself. That's something that I find very healing for me, and a lot of people who have gone there benefited from it. It's not something I do specifically for my golf, but it's something that's helped me.”
If you’re in a better place mentally overall, it will translate into everything. Whether it’s work or sport or home or relationships, whatever it is. I mean, if you’re a happy person, or if you’re in a place where you’re at peace, it translates into everything.
Lahiri did not even watch the US Open (He didn’t even watch the India-Pakistan Champions Trophy cricket final on TV).
During the Travellers Championship, a week after the US Open, Lahiri admitted he did not watch the US Open because he was at meditation. “No, it's funny you asked me because I was at home, and after the event on Sunday night (of the Memorial) with my wife, she was like what are you going to do if you get into the 60 (Top 60 of the world qualify for US Open)?” he said.
I said, I don’t know what I’m going to do because I really want to go meditate. I guess it all worked out. Funny I say it worked out in the sense of me not getting in, but that’s what I wanted to do at that point in time.
As for his physical home, he says, “I am getting more comfortable and feel I belong and that gives me a sense of confidence. Now when I finish an event I say I am going home and home is Florida."
Yes, Anirban Lahiri has come a long way from his homes in Secunderabad and Bengaluru. He has come a long way from his amateur days, and an even longer way from his club-throwing younger days.
He is now home. Mentally and physically. And yes, he is 30. Many happy returns of the day, Anirban.
(This admission season, The Quint got experts from CollegeDekho.com on board to answer all your college-related queries. Send us your questions at email@example.com)
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