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WGC HSBC CHAMPIONS

November 4, 2015

Anirban Lahiri

Shanghai, China

CALVIN KOH: Many thanks for coming -- you finished tied 28th in this event last year but I'm sure you're hoping to better the result given the year and the fall.

ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously last year was my first time here, and I think the golf course is a really good test. It probably suits my game as well, because you've got to hit the ball really good around here. You're not going to have a lot of wedges. You're not going to have a lot of tap-ins for birdies. And I would like to think that that's what I do well, strike the ball. So hopefully I can have a better event this year.

I'm playing well. I'm feeling positive. So let's see how it goes.

CALVIN KOH: I think with the Asian tour Order of Merit, title virtually sealed up for you and leaves you prepared to focus your energies on this week, as well.

ANIRBAN LAHIRI: No, absolutely. I'm really happy with the position I'm in. Having finished third and second the last two years, it would be great to get over the line. It looks likely right now but it would be a wonderful thing when and if that happens.

Obviously my focus has changed over the last few years. Last year when I was here, it was very important for me to play well in this event because it was one of my first WGCs, and it was the first time for me.

I come back 12 months later having played every other WGC; having won in Europe; having got my card in America, and suddenly this event becomes critical for me in how I reshuffle in America and my World Rankings going into the end of the year, looking at the Masters.

So the event is still really important, but the perspective is radically different. I guess the golf isn't radically different. It's the same thing; you have to go out there and do the same things. But a lot has changed in the last 12 months.

Q. As you said, you know the perspective is a little different coming into this tournament this year. But I guess it is extremely crucial for you, how you want your PGA TOUR series to go for 2016. And The Final Series, where you are now, 15th in The Race to Dubai. Can you talk about where you think it tournament fits into your overall plan --
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Absolutely, there are a few events every year that are critical; not just from one angle but many different angles. One of the things that I've ended up doing this year is playing on three different tours and it's been really hard to manage my schedule. It's been hard to balance everything.

Last week was a very important week for me, the CIMB Classic, because it was critical for the Asian Tour Order of Merit and it would be my first event for the PGA tour. I had to miss Turkey because I made that decision. And Turkey was also critical to The Race to Dubai.

I'm here now and playing in the next three events in The Race to Dubai. Obviously they are great events and massive World Ranking points. This event has a dual-advantage. If I play well this week, it helps me in where I kind of fit in, how many events I might get into early next year which is when I'm planning to play in America.

It's been a balancing act, but I think at the end of the day, if you play good, solid golf, everything else becomes secondary. All the great players play just 20 events and it's enough for them because they are good enough to do whatever they need to do. Now hopefully that is something that I can aspire to do in the time to come.

Q. How many tours will you be playing next year, and does it at all put you at a disadvantage --
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: No, I think I'm still -- I'm actually on the brink, on the verge of making some really tough decisions. I think over the next week or ten days, I'll know exactly how much I'm playing where. But the overall picture is going to look more -- it's going to be more likely that I'm going to focus in America.

Obviously that's been my goal, my target, has been to play on the PGA TOUR, and I'm not going to not play now that I have the opportunity to. So that's going to be my main focus. How extensively I play in Europe is something that I'm still considering.

There's a lot of chopping and changing going on in the minimum number of events and how the criteria work, especially with the Olympics next year. The schedules are getting squeezed more and more so there's a lot more events that are overlapping.

But my focus is going to be primarily in America, but I will come back to Asia and play a few events toward the end of the year.

Q. Is it easier to keep your Asian Tour membership because of the crossover with Europe?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, I think the Asian Tour membership is something that has been -- they have been very supportive. I think the rules are such that if I do indeed manage to win the Order of Merit, I'll be exempt for five years. I'm sure I can come back and play whenever I want to, at least over the next five years, if that does indeed happen.

With Europe, I'm exempt until 2017. I'm still trying to figure out whether being a member is in my best interests in case I'm not able to play my minimum number of events. That is again, something that The European Tour is working on, coming up with a new policy for next year.

There's a few things that are still yet to be decided. This is still definitely one of them. But I can tell you that my focus will be on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Since The Presidents Cup, you've played every week. You're playing this week, next week, Dubai. That's seven weeks on the trot?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: That's right.

Q. How difficult is it to stay physically fresh and mentally fresh during such a long run of travel and play?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: It's not easy, I can tell you that. But I think it's something that I'm not completely unused to. Just to give you an idea, last year I was in a position where I was trying to chase down David Lipsky for the Asian Tour Order of Merit. I played nine weeks on the trot starting with Q-School in Europe all the way through to December 20th or so. I was scheduled to play another week but I got to a point where I just put my hands up and I said, no, I'm going to collapse now.

This feels a lot better than that. It's just my fifth week, and it's hard but having said that, it helped that before The Presidents Cup, I was playing the Web.com finals, and if I played every one of the Web.com finals, I would have ended up playing four plus seven: 11 weeks, which is why I decided not to play the fourth. Fortunately for me, I played well enough to give the third event the skip, so I got ten days off, which feels like a month.

I feel fine. Mentally there's no lack of motivation. There's a lot to play for. I'm trying my heart out to get off to as good a start as I can on the PGA TOUR and to have as good a finish as I can on The European Tour, and to see if I can better my World Rankings coming to the end of the year where it gives me some flexibility with events for next year and I can plan.

So far, the only thing I can complain about is the volume, but everything else has been fantastic. So I really shouldn't be saying anything bad about it.

Q. Where does The European Tour Rookie of the Year figure in that; and the fact that you are 15th in The Race to Dubai?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Well, obviously in an ideal world, I would love to win at least one of these next three events. This week would be fantastic because it would count on every tour in the world.

But it would be nice, actually, to finish as the Rookie of the Year. Although, you know, it wouldn't really feel like I am a rookie. I have been playing for a long time now. I've played in a few European events, as well. The co-sanctioned ones, at least. It was a similar thing last year. I was in Q-School in Europe and when I got my card, they said, you've got to fill out all your forms as a rookie. I'm looking at the form saying, man, this doesn't feel right, because I've been around for such a long time already.

But having said that, yeah, why not? If I can have a good, strong three weeks, it would be fantastic to finish as a Rookie of the Year. I'd love to win one of these three weeks and see if I can get into the top five or something. Where I am right now, a win would definitely get me closer to finishing top five in The Race to Dubai. So yeah, in an ideal world, hopefully that happens.

Q. And what about Matt Fitzpatrick?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, he's been fantastic. I've been watching how well he's been playing, especially the bigger events. Obviously in golf, as you'll see with most players, we get on a run. It could be a good run or a bad run. But when you get on a good run, you can really make it count. But you know, the guys who max out on their good runs are the guys who make big, big jumps.

I had a good run early in the year and I made a big jump and Matthew is doing the same thing and Andy Sullivan is doing the same thing. I remember playing with Jordan Spieth right here one year ago and that was before he got on the biggest run that I've ever seen anyone get on. Runs are fantastic. Hopefully both mine and Matt's continue.

Q. As a longer player, I'm curious when you got to Europe, what it was like seeing and playing with the Nicolas Colsaerts of Europe and Dustin Johnson and Bubba. Was there a curious factor to see how you stood up against them?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, there's long and then there's long and then there's really long. I definitely don't come in the really long category. I'm definitely above average, even on the PGA TOUR. I've played a few events now and most guys that I've played with would put me in the above average category.

Now, if I can play in the best tour in the world and be above average in length, I think that's an advantage. But do I have the physical, athletic ability of a Bubba or a Dustin? Probably not. But you know, there's guys who don't hit it within 20 yards of me who have won majors, who have won every big event in the world that there is to win.

Length is definitely important but it's not the only factor when it comes down to doing well. You know, I'm happy with what I have. Hopefully I can just do everything a little bit better in the time to come.

Q. You said there's long, long and really long and then you went to above average. Where are you?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: I'm probably in the middle long. The middle long is probably above average, and then you have, you know, Bubba and Dustin and Tony fine auto and all the other guys. It's a funny term -- back in India, we have a term which is Sunday Special, which means, oh, he's just hit a Sunday special, which is probably the best shot you could ever hit. If you were playing a video game, it's the one where Tiger hits it and the ball gets on fire. When I hit that, I'm probably five or ten behind these guys, and that's pretty good. (Laughter).

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