Grounded Lahiri waits patiently as PGA Tour gets to starting block
“If I were to play the Charles Schwab Challenge (June 11-14 at Fort Worth, Texas) I should have left by now,” said Lahiri.Updated: May 27, 2020 08:15 IST
The special permission acquired by the PGA Tour from the White House to facilitate the entry of the 20-plus overseas players and caddies into the US is lying unused in Anirban Lahiri’s inbox as he has no travel plans to show.
The PGA Tour resumes operations in two weeks but Lahiri’s abstention from top-flight golf will continue for a while. With international flights from India not resuming anytime soon, the professional from Bengaluru has no option but to wait. Even when the situation eases, boarding a flight to his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, will not end the lockdown phase as the family will have to go into 14-day quarantine on touchdown.
“If I were to play the Charles Schwab Challenge (June 11-14 at Fort Worth, Texas) I should have left by now,” said Lahiri. The wait has been agonizing, but the 32-year-old is gearing up to end his career’s longest break.
The only Indian with full playing rights on the world’s biggest golf tour, Lahiri arrived in India for the Hero Indian Open in mid-March and got stuck following the nationwide lockdown. Since the pandemic led to the national Open getting postponed, he spent time with coach Vijay Divecha in Ahmedabad just before the country came to a standstill.
But for the satisfaction that “leaving town just in time was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever taken given the grave situation in Ahmedabad”, Lahiri has had no options the past two months but to keep the body and mind fit, tend to his one-year-old daughter Tisya and post food videos for the PGA Tour. Indian recipes have been received warmly but Lahiri, in search of his maiden win in the US, is seeking accolades on the golf course.
For that, shaking off the rust is essential. In the current scenario, Lahiri could spend most of June practicing with golf courses in the city just about reopening. If this is the case, he will miss the three events on the PGA Tour next month. “I need at least three weeks of practice to be tournament ready. It would be a mistake to jump into competition without preparation given the high standards. Besides, guys there are ready to compete as golf courses have been open most of the time,” he said.
Once in the US, Lahiri will also have to get used to travelling for tournaments without his family due to safety concerns. “A lot of variables have to be factored in, like taking a flight with 150 strangers to the tournament venue, standing at the baggage collection point with 700-plus people, taking a taxi to the hotel and finally (take into account) the sanitation levels at that place,” he said.
Till the time he tees up, the fierce competitor in Lahiri will be reluctantly following the leaderboard from outside the ropes. “It will be tough (to miss out),” he said, but that’s the closest he can get to the action before declaring himself ready to go.