For Indian star Anirban Lahiri (pictured) the world is not necessarily getting smaller after a marathon journey to this week’s inaugural Fiji International from the US PGA Championship.
He arrived at Natadola Bay Golf Course in Fiji today from Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky a day behind schedule because of a 24-hour layover in Los Angeles caused by bad weather.
“The flight was a little bit bumpy. I was hoping to be here the same time yesterday. There were a lot of weather issues in America,” Lahiri, who missed the cut by two shots last week.
“We ended up missing our connecting flight to Fiji on Monday night. We flew overnight and landed this morning so I am just glad that I am here.”
The 27-year-old from Bangalore joins a world class field that includes Fijian Vijay Singh, who designed the Natadola Bay course, and Nick Price from Zimbabwe.
Lahiri currently leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is making his debut on OneAsia this week in the US$1 million Fiji International, which is jointly sanctioned with the PGA Tour of Australasia.
“I was really disappointed not to play four rounds last week. I wasn’t physically 100 percent last week as I was recovering from Chickenpox from about 15 days back from then,” added Lahiri.
He first started feeling unwell playing in the Open Championship in July and played the first two rounds with a high fever. Upon returning home he was diagnosed with Chickenpox. He was bed ridden for eight days and did not hit a golf ball for 15.
“It was good to get that out of the way. I got to Valhalla and I was actually in pretty good shape. I was disappointed but happy my game is beginning to come back,” said the Indian.
The stunning coastal view from the clubhouse was a welcoming sight for the Indian after his never ending journey.
“It is so beautiful. I am just waiting to get out on the golf course. I am feeling good. I am glad that I am here. At least I will get a full round in and be ready for tomorrow.”
He got married a couple of months ago and has brought his wife to Fiji.
“I was really excited when I heard I was coming to Fiji and apart from everything else this is a great place to come with your partner,” he added.
Lahiri tees-off in tomorrow’s first round with Australian Craig Parry and Korea’s Kim Bi-o at 11.55.am.
The Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from 14-17 August and will be Fiji’s first internationally broadcast golf tournament.
Being played for a US$1 million prize purse the Fiji International will be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.
Proudly supported by the Fijian Government, the Fiji International is expected to produce a multi-million dollar boost for the Fijian economy, in addition to flow on benefits including the growth of the game in the region.
Designed by Singh, the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course is renowned for its sparkling backdrop of coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean that line 15 out of the 18 championship holes.
Tickets for the Fiji International are now on sale through selected Total Service Stations and RC Manubhai stores.
Total Service Stations selling tickets include: The Total Tavua, Total Ba, Total Lautoka, Total Navutu, Total Namaka, Total Corner Pt, Total Town end (Nadi), Total Sigatoka. Suva areas: Total Lami, Total Hibiscus, Total Flagstaff, Total Laucala, Total Makoi and Total Nausori.
Thanks to the support of the Fijian Government, tickets are available to Fijian residents at a reduced rate when proof of residence is shown.
The cost of a ticket includes a free shuttle bus from the corner of Maro Road and Queens Road junction in Natadola, and 10 per cent discount on bus travel with Sunbeam to the junction (normal bus timetable to apply.)
Children 16 years and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.
For further information visit www.fijiinternational.com.