Lahiri hoping for memorable debut at WGC-HSBC Champions

Shanghai, Oct 31 (IANS) India’s Anirban Lahiri will be hoping for a memorable debut when he takes his place among the game’s elite at next week’s $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions.

The final World Golf Championships event of the year will be held at the Sheshan International Golf Club Nov 6-9 here and will feature some of the world’s best players, including Australia’s Adam Scott, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson of the US.

The 27-year-old Indian earned his place among the star studded field by virtue of his current position where he sits in second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

While he may have played in other Chinese cities before, this will be the first time Lahiri is teeing up at the Sheshan International Golf Club and he will be arriving here on the back of a sizzling form that saw him lift his fifth Asian Tour title in Macau last week.

“I believe the last time I played in China was during my rookie season on the Asian Tour. That was a long time back. But I’ve since grown as a player maybe from 24 months back,: Lahiri said.

“This is the time of the year where you want to play your best golf. We’ve got the biggest events with prize money and world ranking points and there’s a lot to play for. I’m playing well and I’m confident. I’m focused on what I need to do,” he added.

Lahiri, who has set himself a target of breaking into the world’s top-50 by the end of the season, is confident of taking on the best players in the world at the WGC-HSBC Champions, having notched two wins and four top-10s on the region’s premier Tour this season.

“My game is there and I know I can compete against the best players in the world. There are still some areas that I know I must get better. I’m working on it and it’s obviously improving,” said Lahiri, who is ranked 69th in the world.

While hard work and determination has made him the world-class player that he is today, Lahiri’s upbringing and attitude also played a huge part in his meteoric rise.

“My attitude and how I come across is from the Indian values that I have. I look up to a lot of these players like Ernie (Els) and Jeev (Milkha Singh). But when I’m on the course, I feel I can beat anyone of them on my day. I do respect them and I’m there to play golf,” said the Indian.

The leading four players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit, including David Lipsky and Jason Knutzon of the US, Filipino Antonio Lascuna and Lahiri, will feature in the Chinese showpiece which is the only country outside the US to currently be hosting a one of the four prestigious World Golf Championship events.

EurAsia Cup captain and three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand will also spearhead the Asian challenge alongside home favourite Liang Wen-chong.