Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri will seek early momentum, while compatriot SSP Chawrasia would eye a strong finish when they start their campaign at the USD 7 million CIMB Classic on Thursday.
For Lahiri the CIMB Classic is about getting early momentum as the new 2017-18 PGA season gets underway with a clutch of events in Asia.
But for his friend, Chawrasia, the event is a chance to play alongside the world’s leading players and make a mark that could carry him further in a career that has already put him as one of the Top-5 Indian golfers of all time.
“Playing with some of the world’s best, including No. 3 (Hideki) Matsuyama and Justin Thomas (PGA Tour’s Player of the Year) is a big motivation,” says Chawrasia.
Thomas, who won his maiden Major, the PGA Championships, is also two-time defending champion at CIMB Classic, having won last two editions and is attempting for a hat-trick at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Chawrasia said, “It has been a great period for me since March 2016, when I finally won the Hero Indian Open after finishing second four times. What made it even better was I won again in 2017 and in between got my first international win outside India – in Manila.
“I also played at Olympics and World Cup, so I would like to keep improving. I also want to win a European Tour event outside India and hopefully on PGA, too. And, I also want to play Majors.
Two months ago Chawrasia was bestowed with the Arjuna Award. “That (Arjuna Award) was a big deal and I used to admire Jamshed (a former Kolkata golfer) who was the first Indian golfer to get it in 1975, even before I was born.”
Chawrasia has played the CIMB three times before, but has always been somewhere around the bottom T-71 (2016), T-73 (2015) and T-47 (2011).
Meanwhile, Lahiri, who keeps getting mentioned by some of the big stars the latest to praise his gutsy performance at Presidents Cup earlier this month was Davis Love III is looking at another good start to the new PGA Tour season, which began soon after the end of the last one.
“I like this golf course. I am familiar with it just the way I am familiar with Delhi Golf Club back home. Straight away I am at home and know what to do. It take maybe nine holes to see how the golf course is playing,” said Lahiri, who entered the final round four clear of the field last but ended T-third as Thomas retained the title.
Lahiri will play the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges next week and then two more events in US in the Fall season of the Tour.