Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri will be among the early starters as he tries to make up for last year’s disappointment at the Bermuda Championships which begins here on Thursday.
Lahiri, who withdrew midway through the Bermuda Championship last year due to an injury, will play with Scott Stallings and Wyndham Clark in the second group in the morning at Port Royal Golf Course.
Also in the field is Arjun Atwal, who returns to action after four weeks and will play alongside Aaron Baddeley and Ben Martin, a little over an hour after Lahiri.
A year ago, Lahiri seemed to be going fine after an opening round of 66 and was then under par for the second round before a side strain late in the round saw him finish bogey-bogey for a 73. He made the cut but decided to withdraw from the event to recover.
“Some work left unfinished,” said Lahiri about his outing at the event, which made its debut on the PGA Tour last year.
“It’s a pretty nice golf course. It’s unique. Obviously, the biggest challenge here is the wind and I consider myself to be a pretty good wind player. I’ve had a lot of good results at windy venues and the grasses are tropical, so it’s a lot like what I’m used to playing, primarily Bermuda.
“So to that extent I feel quite comfortable. Last year I was playing really well, played really good. I had come up on another big break and put a lot of preparation in, so it was unfortunate that I got hurt, but up until that point of time I felt really comfortable on the golf course. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way this year when I get started and I’m looking forward to it.”
On his season so far, Lahiri, who came to India for the Hero Indian Open and then stayed on because of travel restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, said, “I played after a long break. I think it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve obviously had one good result and a couple of average results.
“I think I have had a few loose holes every event or one bad round or mediocre round every event. But there’s been a lot of good golf and a lot of birdies and a lot of other positives as well,” he said.
“Barring one day out of the three events that I played, my putting’s been pretty solid. More or less most departments are in a good shape barring the odd inconsistency, which is exactly what I was trying to work on over the last few weeks.”
For Lahiri playing with a whole set of protocols and COVID regulations is the new normal.
“After my last event at Sanderson, I have had three weeks off, during which I worked on my game and is raring to go,” he said.
“Bermuda as a country has done really well in managing and handling the virus. I think from the last I heard they only had 14 or 16 cases total since the start of the pandemic. I guess it’s probably the safest place for spectators to come out.”
Atwal, who also played at Bermuda last year and finished tied 44th, said, “The course suits my eye. I have not played much since the Dominican event (Corales Puntacana, where Lahiri was T-6), so I am looking forward to this week. Lots of rest otherwise.”
As for Atwal, since the Rocket Mortgage event in July, soon after golf re-started on the PGA Tour, he has played five tournaments and made the cut in four.
“Just need to get a couple of good results, though,” said Atwal, the only Indian to have won on the PGA Tour.
Brendon Todd, who broke a long slump with a stunning win at Bermuda last year, has not looked back since. He won back-to-back at Bermuda and Mayakoba and went on to make it to the Tour Championship.
Despite breaking his big toe recently, Todd played at the CJ Cup and will be defending his title this week.
The field also includes Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Jason Dufner, Stewart Cink, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Padraig Harrington among others.