Lahiri makes his debut in the Hero World Challenge

India’s Anirban Lahiri makes his debut in the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge in an invitational field that will be headed by World No. 1 Jordan Spieth.

Pawan Munjal, Chairman, MD, CEO, Hero MotoCorp with Tiger Woods and India’s top golfer Anirban Lahiri at the 2015 Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas on Tuesday.   -  PTI

India’s Anirban Lahiri makes his debut in the $3.5 million Hero World Challenge in an invitational field that will be headed by World No. 1 Jordan Spieth. Laid on a straight course where windy conditions could make things difficult, the 39th ranked Lahiri will have a tough challenge up his sleeves.

But for the Indian, this is a win-win opportunity. This week, in an 18-man field that has attracted six from the top-10 bracket, Lahiri gets a chance to improve his world rankings and make at least $100,000!

To gain a special exemption to be part of this elite field, Lahiri needed a place in the world’s top-50. He did so by stringing together a series of stupendous performances, including two European Tour titles. His ranking and form helped the sponsor back his case and the Tiger Sports Foundation committee gave him the nod.

Lahiri agrees, “It’s been a great year, lots of firsts. Getting my card for next year in America, playing the President’s Cup and a top-5 at Whistling Straits. So I've had a highlight-filled year.

“It’s great to be playing with the best players in the world. These are the kind of events and fields that you want to play against every week and I'm really excited.”

Lahiri, who figured in all the four majors this year, was far from over-awed as he looked ahead to playing with Speith, the defending champion, in the opening round. “After all, we all are professionals. I will go out there and do the best that I can. He is going to do the same. So, let’s see how things turn out on the course,” said Lahiri, ahead of his last event of the year.

Recovering from a back surgery, Tiger Woods will be missing from the line-up, like in 2008 and 2009. As the host of the event for the 17th time in 19 years, Woods was all praise for the Indian rookie. “I watched him at the PGA at Whistling Straits this year. He had a wonderful chance, played really well. He was doing everything well, just ran into a couple guys ahead of him who did everything well as well.

“After getting to know him and watching him play, Anirban has an inordinate amount of talent and it was just a matter of him committing to play over here. And with all that talent and with his work ethic, I mean, he could achieve a lot and I certainly expect him to do that going forward and it would be fun to watch.”