Lahiri looks at the Memorial with fond memories and lot of hopes

The 30-year-old Lahiri has been paired with Kevin Streelman and Jamie Lovemark in the morning wave.

Anirban Lahiri has fallen outside of top-100 for the first time in four years. (File Photo)   -  AFP

Anirban Lahiri, who achieved his career-best result at the Memorial in 2017 by finishing tied-2nd, returns to the event with a lot of hope and expectations.

The 30-year-old Indian, who has fallen outside of top-100 for the first time in four years, has been paired with Kevin Streelman and Jamie Lovemark in the morning wave.

Young Shubhankar Sharma, who has been making an attempt to get onto the PGA Tour, will make his maiden appearance at the storied event. Sharma has been paired with Trey Mullinax and Andrew Dorn in the afternoon session.

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The tournament is one of the most significant ones in the season as Jack Nicklaus hosts the event. Virtually, all top stars, including World No. 1 Justin Thomas, No. 2 Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson are in the field, as is Tiger Woods, a multiple winner here.

Lahiri, speaking about Nicklaus, said, “He’s very, very approachable, more so than I would have thought. The first couple of times, it’s hard to talk because you’re in the presence of greatness. It was nice of him to extend my membership at the Bear’s Club, which is not exactly easy to come by. I remember writing a letter to him.”

“I never thought, growing up, that I’d get to share that kind of relationship with him. This is one of my favourite tournaments and the course is one my favourite ones,” Lahiri added.

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Sharma, too, is excited about being in the field. “I have heard so much about the event and I am excited to be part of it. Last week’s 20th place has been good, though it could have been better and I am looking forward to this week.”

In 2017, Lahiri shot 65 in the final round to leapfrog to tied-2nd and it remains his best result on the PGA Tour. Woods in his 15 appearances from 1997-2015 at Muirfield Village Golf Club has claimed 8 top-10s and five wins. He was also a member of the US Team that won the 2013 Presidents Cup, here.

The invitational field of 120 players will battle for a purse of $8.9 million, a winner’s check of $1.602 million, 500 FedExCup Points and a three-year exemption on the Tour.

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Nicklaus’ vision for this tournament became a reality in 1976 when it was won by Roger Maltbie. The Muirfield course has hosted the Ryder Cup, US Amateur, Solheim Cup and Presidents Cup.

In 2017, Jason Dufner rolled to a three-shot victory and is back to defend his title. He will be looking to join the company of Woods, who won this event three years in a row from 1999-2001 and is the only player to defend the title.

The Par-72 course is almost 7,400 yards and very challenging.