‘This break might be a blessing in disguise for me’
Top athletes talk to HT about their experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is Anirban Lahiri, a multiple-time winner on the European and Asian Tours. The 32-year-old is currently the only Indian to have playing rights on the PGA Tour and top-five finish in a Major championshipUpdated: Apr 24, 2020 17:56 IST
I am lucky to be in India right now. When I arrived in Ahmedabad from Florida (Palm Beach Gardens) on March 11 in the build-up to the Indian Open (which got postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic), there were two things on the mind—to spend time with my family and stem the slide by playing some good golf in the national Open.
But things went into an overdrive soon after, and though I missed the madness at the airports, here I am, looking at an interval from golf. In such times, even if I am not playing golf, I can spend quality time with my family (wife Ipsa and daughter Tisya), who have been in India and away from me since January. Before the lockdown here, I got to work with my coach Vijay Divecha and I must admit the last time I had this kind of time was when I was playing on the PGTI (Professional Golf Tour of India) and had time off for three-four months.
The last couple of seasons on the PGA Tour have witnessed a steady decline in the quality of golf I am known to play and that’s not acceptable. This break might actually be a blessing in disguise as I don’t have a gun to my head, looking at instant cure in between tournaments. Instead of trying to put a band-aid to the cancer that’s crept into my game, I have a chance to get to the core of the problems.
My iron-play is a concern and putting, a traditional strength, has been inconsistent. I have been hitting a lot of destructive shots of late, but thanks to the change in equipment, the driving has improved. We are working on fundamentals and discovering areas we haven’t looked at earlier like yardage pitching. This was a weakness during my amateur days but is now a strength with regular practice.
Amid brushing up my culinary skills and following the fitness drills—yoga, stretching and resistance bands—playing nine holes at Kalhaar in Ahmedabad a few days before the shutdown will always stand out. Tisya, who is one, followed me on the golf course for the first time. It was a sight to watch her wobble around, chase the golf ball and pluck grass. These are the small joys of life but we professionals hardly do anything that’s normal.
Ipsa plans to learn golf during this break, but I am not the one who will teach her. Golf itself is frustrating and I don’t want to risk my marriage in the process. I foresee the exercise as a disaster waiting to happen, the magnitude of which will be bigger than Covid-19!
As told to Robin Bose