Written by
Joy Chakravarty, LIV Golf Correspondent
Apr 25 2024
- 4 MIN
Lahiri Adelaide preview image

ADELAIDE – Crushers GC’s Anirban Lahiri returns to The Grange and LIV Golf Adelaide – scene of his rousing finish last year when a final-round 63 helped him finish second behind Talor Gooch in the individual competition – with a sense of anticipation and excitement, as well as a heavy heart.

It’s almost impossible for any LIV Golf player not to get pumped up about Adelaide. The tournament promises to be the biggest ever in the short history of the League with nearly double the number of fans expected to attend this week. Last year, it was the most popular stop with more than 77,000 engaged spectators witnessing the action unfold in the Australian city.

Even though Crushers were unable to get to the podium in the team competition, the 36-year-old Indian shot 13-under over the weekend to get to within three shots of the runaway Gooch, who had started with successive rounds of 60. It was Lahiri’s first of three runners-up finishes in 2023.

And just like last year, when Lahiri played the event with his mother-in-law in critical care before passing away during his brilliant final round, he will again have things on his mind following the death of one of his closest friends and his long-time club-fitter, Rusty Estes, on Tuesday last week.

Lahiri reckons he has not played with any club in recent years that has not been touched by Rusty’s genius. That included the runners-up finish to Rippers GC Captain Cam Smith at the 2022 Players Championship, when the American clubmaker famously added 3.5 grams of weight to all his irons which provided instant improvement to his ball-striking.

“I am just trying to lean into last year's positivity. I greatly enjoyed the golf course here last year. Regardless of how I finished, it was such a memorable event. An event like that, and with the crowd getting behind you and supporting you, it was special,” said Lahiri.

“But yes, last week was terrible. It started with the heavy rains in Dubai (the worst in 75 years which flooded the city) on Tuesday morning, and then the news about Rusty that evening.

“It’s been very difficult for me to come to terms with. It would have been difficult if the circumstances were an illness or an accident. But then there are certain situations where it is kind of harder to deal with or harder to wrap your head around. A loss is a loss, but this is definitely one of those that impact you more.

“I take refuge in my practice and in my golf and coming back to tournament golf helps. But not having Rusty around is very difficult to deal with, because he was supposed to be here. It will take me some time to truly come to terms, to be honest.

“But like with my mom-in-law last year, these are times when you are forced to get a different perspective in life. I don’t really want to equate it to my golf, or how I’m going to play. They’re two separate things. And it would be disrespectful to have a direct equation of losing someone, and golf, which is just a job for me. I love it, but at the end of the day, I’m a professional and I have to deal with it, and compartmentalize it.

“My wife (Ipsa) is with me these two weeks, and that is great because I can talk to her about the hundreds of things that are going through my head. I can tell her about the emotions I feel. And being out on the golf course is probably the best way I can deal with it right now.”

Defending Team Championship winners Crushers have already won two team titles this year, both times in emphatic fashion. And Lahiri is confident they will be a force once again this week.

Captain Bryson DeChambeau has been in terrific form for them, and the Indian ace expects the big Texan to bounce back from the disappointment of the weekend at the Masters.

DeChambeau started the first major of the season in stunning fashion, snatching the lead with a 7-under 65. He finally finished tied 6th, his best showing ever at Augusta National.

“As a team, all of us know how well he’s been playing, so we kind of expected him to do well at the Masters,” said Lahiri. “I had a brief conversation with him about the tournament, and he was very disappointed that he was nowhere close to his best over the weekend, especially after the start he got. He was happy that he played well, but disappointed that he did not convert the opportunity.

“I am sure he will come back with a vengeance this week. That’s just his nature. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. I don’t think he has anything to prove to others. He will do that just to prove it to himself. And that’s the best kind of attitude to have.”