Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar believe that winning India its first ever World Cup of Golf would inspire more people to pick up the game in a country where cricket has always reigned supreme.
Speaking from Metropolitan Golf Club prior to their Pro-Am tee time, Lahiri and Bhullar urged Indian fans for their support at the Oakleigh South course throughout the week.
“The good thing is that the cricket match [between Australia and India at the MCG] finishes on Friday … We finish on Sunday,” said Lahiri, who boasts 29 worldwide professional victories.
“We have a great opportunity to leave our mark here … Golf is an individual sport, we play for ourselves most of the time.
“There’s few opportunities where you have the World Cup, or you have the Presidents Cup or you have the Olympics … The public in India, the people, they relate more to the country achieving something than an individual achieving something.”
The childhood friends last competed at the World Cup in 2013 – when the event reverted back to individual stroke play for the first time since 1999 – and believe their chemistry could offer them an advantage over the rest of the field.
“We met for the first time when we were 11 years old,” said Bhullar, who won the Fiji International in August.
“We know each other really well on and off the golf course, which is really important in this format, especially [during foursomes] on Friday and Sunday. It’s very important to know your partner and to know each other’s game and I think that factor will definitely help us.”
RIGHT: Lahiri has urged Indian fans for their support at the World Cup. PHOTO: Matt King/Getty Images.
Lahiri added: “We’ve had a lot of team events where we’ve been on junior teams together, amateur teams together and we’ve had a lot of success together – and it helps because we understand each other’s game style.”
Lahiri (31) and Bhullar (30) have also finalised their tactics for the foursomes on Friday and Sunday, which will see Lahiri tee off from the odd-numbered holes and Bhullar switching from his Titleist ball to his partner’s Callaway.
When asked why the decision over which ball to play was so crucial this week, Lahiri, somewhat unsurprisingly, referred back to the cricket.
“To put it in other terms, it would be ‘a cricket ball is a cricket ball’, but a Kookaburra is different from a BDM or any other ball and it also has a lot to do with the pitches they play on,” Lahiri said.
Bhullar, meanwhile, is enthusiastic about the Indian cricket team’s chances when he visits the MCG for the first time on Friday night.
“It will be really nice to actually go inside (the MCG) and witness India’s victory,” said Bhullar, tongue-in-cheek.