Rising Indian star Lahiri gets Dubai Desert call-up

January 29th, 2010 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Tiger Woods Dubai, Jan 29 (IANS) Anirban Lahiri, who became the No. 1 professional golfer on Aircel PGTI Indian Tour with some stupendous performances in 2009, will showcase the country’s rising strength on the global stage when he competes in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club Feb 1-7 on a special invitation.
Named the Player of the Year 2009 by the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) after winning the Order of Merit, the 22-year-old from Bangalore has been handed a special invitation by ‘golf in DUBAi’ - the promoters and organisers of the $2.5 million European Tour event - in recognition of his consistent showing on the domestic and Asian tours.

Hailed by India’s premier golfer Jeev Milkha Singh as “one of the most exciting talents in the country”, Lahiri topped the PGTI Order of Merit with total earnings of Rs.3,657,853 in the 2009 season.

Lahiri, part of the Indian team which won the silver medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, won two titles and had seven other top-10s in 11 starts, apart from several top-10 finishes in Asia - quite an impressive achievement for a golfer who will be hoping for a strong finish when he joins a star-studded field led by veteran Tom Watson, European No. 1 Lee Westwood and defending champion Rory McIlroy among other big guns contesting for a share in the prize money.

“The Dubai Desert Classic occupies a pride of place on the European Tour and always attracts a world-class field. It has a great roll of honour, including players like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Freddie Couples and Seve Ballesteros. To get invited to a tournament of this stature is indeed a dream-come-true for me,” said Lahiri, who also featured in the recent UBS Hong Kong Open and the Singapore Open.

“I am grateful to ‘golf in DUBAi’ for their gesture. They are very well known in India, having promoted and organised the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters in 2008. Their invitation to me as the leading player on the PGTI Tour, in a way, is a tribute to Indian golf,” added Lahiri, who will be the sixth Indian in the 126-man field (apart from Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Shiv Kapur and SSP Chowrasia).

“After quite a hectic finish to 2009, I am rested and relaxed after a break of more than a month. I am hungry to go out there on the golf course and I hope to post some good numbers on the Majlis course, which I have seen so many times on television,” said the promising Indian, who finished tied third in the Indian Open last year courtesy a brilliant final round of eight-under par 64 on a tough day for scoring.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of ‘golf in DUBAi’, said: “Golf is among the fastest-growing sports in India and it’s encouraging to see young players come through the ranks and get their chance. Hopefully, some of these youngsters will get a decent crack at it.

“We are, indeed, delighted to invite Anirban to Dubai and he thoroughly deserves an opportunity to play in big events. I am sure the presence of a strong Indian contingent led by Jeev, who is a great friend of ‘golf in DUBAi’, will add its own flavour to the competition.”

‘golf in DUBAi’ is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor while BMW, CNN, Emirates Airline, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Jumeirah Group, MasterCard and wasl are co-sponsors of the event in its drive to showcase the emirate’s vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.

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