Buoyed by cricket, Anirban beats bone-chilling cold, gusts at Players

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With 25 holes to go at The Players, Anirban Lahiri has a one-shot lead going into the final day. Photo: Getty Images

Anirban Lahiri is 25 holes away from breakthrough on the PGA Tour at The Players Championship. Excerpts from an interview:

How would you characterize that round?

Anirban Lahiri: I think firstly we got really lucky with the draw. It ended up being a really nice day. It was obviously bitterly cold in the morning. We had four or five layers on. But it was a disappointing start. I think I didn’t do too much wrong and everybody was kind of struggling a little bit, but I was off with my putter, especially in the first half. Just had some minor issues with my eyes and my alignment. It was just enough for me to not hit a lot of good putts.

Related: Anirban within touching distance of glory at The Players

I think I played pretty well on the front nine, but I ended up being 3-over par. Then on the back nine, I really started making some good swings. The eagle on 11 was a big momentum swing for me. Yeah, all in all, I’m a little disappointed, but I’m still not out of it. Even now, it comes down to how you play on the weekend. This weekend, which is Sunday, Monday.

Would you take the cold over the rain and the wind?

Anirban: It’s really a difficult one to answer because the grass is always going to be greener, but I really think that — I came out and I practiced yesterday afternoon. I think it was way harder. Way harder to control the ball because the gusts were really strong, and then when the gusts laid down, you could have a 10-, 15-yard difference in a matter of four or five seconds.

So it wasn’t as much of that today. It was just brutally cold.  I think I started feeling my toes probably around the 10th or 11th hole. I was numb ankle down for the first three holes. So it was a challenge because you have almost no feel. Like I said, I struggled with my putter early. That could almost have contributed to that, but those are the challenges we all faced this week. I’m just glad I fought back well on the back side.

The challenge of playing — you didn’t play at all Friday.

Anirban: That’s right.

I read somewhere you kind of passed the time by watching cricket also.

Anirban: Yeah, yesterday morning we were watching — we had a Test match, and really when you’re looking at a second day in a row of doing nothing, it’s difficult because usually come Wednesday night all of us kind of go into a different zone. Once you start playing the tournament, you have the adrenaline, and it kind of stays with you for four days. It never really leaves your system completely until after the tournament.

But when you have 48 hours of no competition after you started, you have that — it’s a strange thing where it kind of leaves your system and you’ve got to try and wake it up. So yeah, yesterday kind of relaxed a bit but then came back and practiced and just got myself ready to go.

So are you a big fan of cricket? Or did you just need that to pass the time?

Anirban: No, I love cricket. I miss home. I love being home. I grew up watching cricket. Most people do who grew up in India, at least. So, yeah, I enjoy it. And it was convenient. It’s better than the alternative, which has been watching something else.

PGA Tour