It was an act of obstinacy, which he might have regretted, but Anirban Lahiri could afford to smile at his resolve to stick to the risky game plan. Soon after the practice round on Monday, he was possessed by an idea that seemed to defy logic.
Despite the awareness that “he hadn’t been driving at my best”, Lahiri decided to pull out the driver to negotiate the tight fairways of the Delhi Golf Club. The road was fraught with danger, especially since he hadn’t pulled one out here in 11 years, but the intent was to make it count.
The bravado paid off as the driver’s regular appearance, through the opening day of the SAIL Open, meant, surprisingly, there was “less pressure”. In fact, there was little he could complain about after taking a solitary-stroke lead.There was regret at missing some "six putts inside 12 feet for birdie", but he eyed the positives. "My iron play was good and I could have shot another three or four shots under par, but I am happy to give myself a lot of opportunities."
The soft course “playing into the hands of the players”, Lahiri repeated the birdie-making exercise four times on the front nine and, notwithstanding the dropped shot on the 12th, ensured the momentum stayed. Hitting a “three-wood down the middle and a five iron to a foot to the hole from about 205 yards”, he eagled the 14th and birdied the 18th to finish with a 66. “Right now, the course is soft and you can hit it at a normal ball flight and keep more balls in play as compared to previous years,” he said.
A stroke adrift was the trio of Gaganjeet Bhullar, Sri Lanka’s Anura Rohana and Daisuke Maruyama, who like the other seven Japanese on view, marked the day with a black ribbon on the cap, in memory of the victims of the disaster that struck the island nation. A devastated Chiba, Maruyama’s hometown, has been without water and electricity, and it took a lot for the 40-year-old to convince himself to turn out here.