Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri is all set to open his 2021 campaign at the Country Club in Jackson with the Sanderson Farms Championship on Thursday, with a PGA Tour among his immediate goals.
In a last-gasp effort, Lahiri managed to make the Top-125 to qualify for the FedEx Cup and also keep his Tour card.
Lahiri plays his first two rounds with Russell Knox and J J Spain. They start at 12.22 pm in the afternoon wave from the first tee.
Lahiri said, “I skipped last week (Fortinet Championship) and then came the Ryder Cup. Now leading up to next week (Sanderson) with all the preparations and time off I am hoping I can hit the ground running.”
He added, “Yeah I mean I have lots of objectives, lots of targets in the coming season. I need to start checking off my list of things that I need to achieve that have kind of got piled up now over the last few years so time to get some of those things checked off the list.”
One of his immediate goals is winning his first PGA Tour title despite having been on it since 2015.
He has even been runner-up and, in the just-concluded season, he was T-3 at Barbasol. So, he just needs to get that final step done.
Lahiri has checked in for the first two events – Sanderson Farms and Shriners Hospital.
He is unlikely to get into the limited field event, the CJ Cup and Zozo Championship, but will surely play as many events early in the season to get set when 2022 starts.
Lahiri has admitted that keeping his card was at the back of his mind even as he prepared for the Olympics after finishing T-3 at the Barbasol Championship.
With the Tour still having a tournament after the Olympics and Lahiri missing an event due to the Olympics, there was always an element of risk, but the Indian survived.
“Sure keeping the card is a goal for every player,” said Lahiri, who had come through the Korn Ferry Tour final series route before the pandemic.
He said, “Frankly, there was a lot on my plate and I think I am quite pleased with the way I handled the pressure with COVID-19 situation, And you know how challenging it can be for not fully exempt players, not knowing till the week if you are into the tournament or not.
“So, I am glad I was able to do that and I had to dig deep. I am proud of how I managed that.” He also said, “I was totally spent every which way and all this happened within 3-4 months of having Covid.”
Leading the Asian challenger is Korea’s K.H. Lee who takes his bow in the PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season at this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship with three clear goals in his mind — secure a second TOUR victory, break into the world’s top-50 and qualify for the International Team to compete in the 2022 Presidents Cup against the United States.
Off the golf course, Lee, 30, was also over the moon as he and his wife, Joo Yeon Yu, welcomed the arrival of their first child, a daughter named Celine Yuna Lee, in July.
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Asia’s strong line-up this week includes fellow Koreans Sungjae Im, who finished runner-up here in 2019, Sung Kang, Si Woo Kim and Seung Yul Noh, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who finished T-2 at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour earlier this month, Lahiri and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan.
The field also comprises 2020 champion Sergio Garcia, who comes straight from the Ryder Cup, 2015 winner Peter Malnati, Keegan Bradley, Cam Davis, Charley Hoffman, Brandt Snedeker and Sebastian Munoz.
The Country Club of Jackson opens its doors for the eighth consecutive year to host the Sanderson Farms Championship.