Towards the closing stages of last week’s Maybank Malaysian Open, when the pressure was at its peak and affecting the leading protagonists of the tournament in strange ways, eventual champion Anirban Lahiri experienced an emotional high and low within a matter of three shots and five minutes.
Involved in what had developed into a head-to-head battle with the red-hot Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, the Indian made an unlikely birdie putt from 40 feet on the 17th to catch up with the leader. Moments later, Wiesberger hit a wedge shot way long and into the rough on the same hole, from where he could do no better than a bogey.
And while Wiesberger was making that bogey, Lahiri had laid up with two good shots on the par-5 18th. All he needed to do now was hit an easy chip from 60 odd yards and stiff it to the pin and make it that much more difficult for Wiesberger with another birdie.
But as it turned out, on the verge of the biggest win of his career, Lahiri completely chunked the chip into the front bunker. All he could do was smile sheepishly and assess the damage as he walked up to the ball.
It is at times like these that years of doing yoga, and believing in the ancient art, helps Anirban.
You won’t find the 27-year-old from Bangalore in the gym when on tour. He does a bit of cardio exercises, but prefers to stay away from weights and anything more rigorous after a freak accident in 2013 tore 80 per cent of a ligament in his knee.
Nowadays, when in contention, Anirban says he depends more and more on deep breathing. So, whenever he plays a good shot, or a bad one, he immediately resorts to deep breathing to control his heart rate, as well as the flow of adrenaline.
The win improved Lahiri to No37 in the world, which means he is now almost sure of a dream spot at The Masters this year, and has several opportunities of getting into big events on the PGA Tour like the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Shell Houston Open.
No wonder he is so excited these last few days. Time for some deep breathing, Anirban!
Tale of two No1s
Following his withdrawal from the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, 14-time major champion Tiger Woods has slipped to 62nd in the world rankings.
The last time Woods was any worse than this was in the second week of October in 1996, just the week after he won the Las Vegas Invitational after turning pro, which catapulted him to No.75 in the world. And once he won the Walt Disney Classic a fortnight later, he improved to 37th and nev-er looked back.
The only other time Woods fell beyond 50th was in the aftermath of his scandals and injury in 2011, when he dropped to 52nd – which was coincidentally in the same week (41st of the calendar) as it was in 1996.
Woods hasn’t had a single top-10 finish in his last 12 PGA Tour events, and in the six tournaments he has played since his back surgery last March, he has missed the cut three times and withdrawn twice.
And while Woods is in freefall, it is worth noting that Rory McIlroy has just spent his 67th week on top of the world rankings, which makes him the fourth player with the long-est stay on top of the men’s sport.
Of the 17 players who have reached the world No1 ranking since it was introduced in 1986, Woods leads the list with a total of 683 weeks at the helm. The next most successful player was Aussie Greg Norman (331 weeks), followed by Nick Faldo (97 weeks).
And by the looks of it, McIlroy is going to stay where he is for at least the next couple of months, unless someone in the top-10 goes on a winning spree. The Northern Irish-man leads No2 Henrik Stenson by a whopping 4.02 average points as of now.
Awesome choice by R&A
So, after voting to allow women members, the R&A has now taken the next step. They have announced the names of seven prominent ladies who have been invited to become members.
These are: Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies, Renee Powell, Louise Suggs, Belle Robertson, Lally Vagliano Segard and Princess Anne.
Sorenstam, Davies and Suggs are very well known names in the game. Powell was the second African-American to play on the LPGA Tour, and has done some incred-ible work in promoting the sport. Robertson is one of the greatest Scottish amateur golfers of all time, while Segard enjoys a similar stat-ure in French golf.
Stats of the Week
6 – that’s the record on the PGA
Tour for most players involved in a play-off. Happened twice – at the 1994 GTE Byron Nelson Classic, and the 2001 Nissan Open. There were four players who made it to the sudden death in last week’s Farmers Insurance Open.
25 – million dollars, the amount paid by Rory McIlroy to settle his legal dispute with Horizon Sports last week in Dublin.
Quote of the Week
“I like to grind it out. I like tough courses that force you to be stressed. A lot of people, when they feel fear, they kind of run away from it. I tell myself that instead of feeling the fear and kind of running away from it, I got to run towards it and try and face it.” – Jason Day on what makes him click on difficult golf courses.
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