Monkey’s still on the back, but Players high clears Anirban’s mind

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Anirban Lahiri - TheGolfingHub
Though disappointed, Anirban Lahiri termed the finish as huge, especially after the prolonged poor run on the PGA Tour. Photo: actionnetwork.com

The mind’s still coming to terms with the high at The Players, but Anirban Lahiri knows the route ahead as he resumes the quest for a PGA Tour win. Excerpts from an interview

Knowing how close you were, are you able to see any positives out of the week or is it just disappointment right now?

Anirban Lahiri: Hang on, hang on. Now that you’ve asked me that question I’ve got to show you something. This is something I sent my coach from a few weeks ago. Here it is. No, not this one. Give me a minute. (Shows phone.) This is from two weeks ago, February 25 screenshot. Honda Classic week. Strokes gained off the tee 29th, around the green 4th, putting 15th, 144th approach to green. My only goal coming in was to change that, and I did. It was a very successful week.

Related: Keeper of faith Anirban Lahiri sole second at The Players

How did you feel? Were you surprised – you looked very calm out there. How were your nerves?

Anirban: Actually, I’m surprised how calm I was, to be honest. Like I said, I was just happy I was in a really good frame of mind. Just stuck to my processes and routines. I’ve done a really good job, I think, over the last few weeks to really work on that, and I got into a really good process rhythm. That’s what I’ve been working on, getting into a good process rhythm, and I just kind of stayed in that all week.

Given this opportunity, is there any disappointment whatsoever?

Anirban: Of course, of course. I want to win. I’ve been here seven years; haven’t gotten over the line yet. That’s definitely a monkey I want to get off my back. Today was as good an opportunity as any. I guess at one point on 16 I thought it was kind of out of reach, but then again, birdieing 17, Cam kind of opened the door. But I gave it a good go. Made some mistakes today that I could have avoided, but that’s golf. I picked up a few shots, too, so I’m happy. This is a really positive week for me going forward.

I know you can’t really look ahead, but what do you think the emotions will be like 24 hours from now when you’ve had a chance to process it?

Anirban: For me, I’m just relieved. I’ve gone through two years of playing horrible. The last time I contended in a field this good was Memorial maybe, five years ago, or even that was a back-door second. I shot 7-under on Sunday, but I never really contended-contended until maybe Valhalla. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position and since I’ve played in this position in a quality field like this. It’s huge, because when you go through such a lean period for such a long time, you start asking yourself, man, was that a flash in the pan? What are you doing? You haven’t played good in so long. Your belief takes a hit, so this for me is — I’m going to re-cement the foundation and work upwards from here.

How were you able to bounce back after 8?

Anirban: It was simple really. Hit the next shot. I made a really bad decision on the tee. I should’ve hit 5-wood. I tried to force 4-iron and paid the price for it. I kind of knew today was going to boil down to pulling good clubs, making good decisions. And really I hit a few bad ones today. Hit a horrible shot on 14, bad one on 8, and they were all shots I was trying to force instead of the other option, which in hindsight obviously was the option to go with. But I made two errors today; I made a double on one; got away with par on the other. That’s good. I’ll try and make one next time and try and move in that direction.

What was the approach shot on 18? What went through your mind?

Anirban: I hit such a good drive. The ball was above my feet, which is like a hook or a draw lie. The wind was off the right. Again, perfect. Pin is left. My natural shot shape is a draw. It was pretty simple really. I just needed to stand pretty much where my ball ended up, stand there and just make a swing and let the slope and the wind do the job for me. Like a few other things today, I just kind of — I didn’t turn through it, and I kind of hung it out a little bit and it didn’t come back. That was disappointing, because I couldn’t have put myself in a better position to actually — in my head I’m trying to hole that shot. In my head I’m thinking, how do I bring it down and how does it roll and go in. I’m not trying to hit it — I’m trying to hole it.

It was disappointing. Like, to make that swing and see the ball come out like it did was not fun. But again, I had to pick myself up and try and make that chip. I hit a really good chip.

What was going through your head when you saw Cam get off to that crazy hot start?

Anirban: Nothing. This is golf. I got off to that start yesterday. And if he goes out and shoots 8, 9, 10, whatever — he made 10 birdies today. You’ve got to tip your hat to that. It doesn’t really — on a golf course like this you can’t really go hell for leather unless — like 16 was a hole that I could have tried to go and make a 3, but I missed the fairway. Those are the things that you can do. I made a 3 on 11. You have to try and pick your battles and go after it. But if you’re out of position you’ve got to take your medicine, too. It doesn’t really change much. You try and make as many birdies as you can.

Does this free you up for the rest of the season?

Anirban: I don’t know about that. I’ll answer that in week. It’s too soon.

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