When Anirban Lahiri teed off at the year-ending BILT Open, the self-belief wasn't in place. There was a gnawing desire to prove that he had it in him to “stand his ground amidst the sharks”. The indubitable talent soon took over and the greenhorn ended the penultimate day with a three-stroke lead over Jeev Milkha Singh.
If something was amiss, it was the confidence that Lahiri could go on to win in a field that boasted of big names. A sleepless night followed and that meant his body and mind weren't up for the challenge, and he settled for a tied second at the Jaypee Greens.
Call it coincidence, but the man has found peace at an event and venue which caused him serious pain last year. A consecutive round of solid golf meant Lahiri finished at 13-under 131. Not only did he end Friday with a three-stroke lead over Amardip Sinh Malik, the 22-year-old's demeanour seemed to state: “For those who believe, no proof is necessary.”
Lahiri had an identical card after Round II last year, but courtesy the “events and results gone by”, the mindset stands transformed. The longing to prove himself gone, an at-ease Lahiri said: “I am so much more relaxed and in control of myself. It will be a peaceful night with no worries of what will happen on the morrow.”
Such was the confidence that not only did he emerge out of the round unscathed, of the seven birdies, two were on the 14th and 18th - holes he had bogeyed on Thursday. “You can say I am even with the course,” he grinned.
Lahiri had set a target of bettering last year's card after the second round, but equalling it was no less satisfying. Amardip Sinh Malik was another soul who began the day with a target in mind. A card of 66 materialised and the golfer from the Army Golf Course, Meerut, attributed it to his superior putting. “After the 68 yesterday, I knew it (66) was within reach and I started out with it in mind,” he said.
For the second day running, the 24-year-old had an eagle against his name, pulling off the feat on the 4th as compared to the 15th on Thursday. The six-under for the day would have read better had the bogey on the 8th not happened. “I hurried into the shot and then tried something extraordinary which did not come off,” said Malik.