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Lahiri to pair with Westwood, Jimenez at Masters

April 09, 2015 12:10 IST

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri of India plays a shot. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Anirban Lahiri is going the full distance in terms of preparation and soaking in the atmosphere as he plays the pre-event traditional Par-3 which opens the official action at the Masters each year in Augusta, Georgia.

Lahiri, who has played at the Augusta National on each of the past three days alongside different players, got a taste of the famous greens with 18 holes on Sunday, nine on the front stretch on Tuesday and another nine on the back stretch on Wednesday.

Now it is time for the Par-3 contest before the actual show gets underway on Thursday.

Lahiri will have a sense of comfort as he has been paired for the first two rounds alongside Englishman Lee Westwood and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The pairing would also bring a whole lot of positive memories for the 27-year-old Indian, who played alongside Westwood in the final round of the Malaysian Open and then he played the first two rounds with Jimenez at the Hero Indian Open.

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri in action at the Hero India Open. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Lahiri won both the events and rose into the top 50 in the world. Currently number 34 in the world, Lahiri is likely to play all four Majors and WGC, which could also give him a chance to gain a status on the coveted PGA Tour.

Commenting on his pairings for the first two days, Lahiri said, "Both Lee (Westwood) and Miguel (Jimenez) are experienced stars and I have known them. They are great fun and very encouraging. I played the final round of Malaysian Open with Lee and the first two rounds of the Hero Indian Open with Miguel. Both those events have great memories for me."

Lahiri has played with former Masters winner Vijay Singh, picked the brains of three-time winner Nick Faldo and on Wednesday played alongside world number 15 and four-time winner on PGA Tour, Patrick Reed.

Armed with the knowledge gleaned over the past three days, he is now ready for the big battle.

Meanwhile at the Par-3 contest, he will play alongside Bernd Wiesberger, whom he beat en route to winning the Malaysian Open.

The Austrian, a Masters debutant like Lahiri, ended second despite leading by a whopping shots after three rounds.

"The Par-3 should be fun and I am looking forward to it and it is also good to loosen up. I have played the course twice over three days and have prepared well with my caddie, Cline Laddie, and am all set," said Lahiri ahead of the Par-3 contest.

Lahiri's sense of comfort extends to his immediate team around him, as he is accompanied by wife, Ipsa, who is getting used to her husband's heavy travel schedule. Also present at Augusta is Lahiri's long-time supporter and sponsor, Pawan Munjal.

"Anirban (Lahiri) is a perfect example of the kind of talent that exists and is waiting to be tapped in India and Asia. In the past decade or so, Indians have won more than 60 titles across Asia, Japan, Europe and even in the US," said Munjal, vice-chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Hero MotoCorp Ltd.

"Anirban's flowering into a world-class golfer will further promote the sport and hopefully his presence at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio will provide the ideal boost to the game in India," he added.

The other Asian stalwart in the field, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand will be in the company of 1992 Masters Tournament winner Fred Couples and South African Branden Grace.

Thongchai, a three-time Asian Tour number one, will make his fourth appearance at Augusta National Golf Club and he will be looking to go better than his tied 37th finish last year.

Thongchai took a month long break to prepare for The Masters, as he hopes to become only the second Asian to win a Major.

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