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Anirban Lahiri turned 27 while playing an event in Germany in June. He celebrated in style. His sweetheart Ipsa, whom he married in late May, was with him. There was a lot to look forward to, with a honeymoon planned in Madagascar and the PGA Championship in Kentucky, US, in early August. It was all working out nicely. Then, suddenly, there was a change in plans and a flurry of activity—the honeymoon had to be cut short because he had secured a last-minute berth in the British Open starting on Thursday.

“I thought the qualifying cut-off (for the Open) was sometime in May and when I checked the Open website, they only had the regular categories available, and I assumed I had missed the chance as I wasn’t in the field for any of the qualifying events. That was why I had scheduled to get some time off. But into the second day of my honeymoon I got a call that I was ‘in’ for the Open on the basis of my world rankings (No.86)," says Lahiri.

On the eve of the 143rd British Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, Lahiri talks about how good the past 18 months have been for him as a golfer, anger management, and playing at two majors within a month. Edited excerpts:

What have the last few days been like, preparing for what will be your second major, the second British Open appearance?

Well, it all happened very quickly. The call-up, the efforts to ensure I got here and so on. It was just about getting here and nothing about golf.

I landed here (in Hoylake) on Saturday and all through Saturday night it poured. I played a couple of days early this week. The course was soft after that and as the rains stay away, it will become firmer and the ball will run more. I got some of the new equipment I had ordered. I have been trying them out and tweaking them a little.

The last year or two have been great. How have you shaped up as a golfer?

More than just this year, the last 18 months have been tremendous. Not just in terms of where my career has gone, but in terms of learning and growth and coming of age as a player and a professional. One of the good things that has happened is that I have played with some of the globally renowned top players and great ball strikers like Henrik Stenson, Sergio García and others.

It has been important to see and learn what you need to do. When I was junior and played with the Americans and Europeans for the first time, I was shocked at the level of golf they were playing. Then I played the Eisenhower Cup (2006) and saw the likes of Rory McIlroy.

It is always nice to experience first-hand where you want to go. You look at things differently and your perspective changes, your idea of good and great golf, or at least my idea, changed.

For me, I set a target and move on. I need to challenge myself over and over again and that helps set another target. The most important factor has been the quality of my game, the way I am striking the ball, the strokes and mental ability.

Quality is about a different level. Quantitatively (in terms of scores), on any given day there may not be (much difference), but if I can improve the quality, the by-product will be good.

How are you looking forward to this exciting phase of two majors in the span of a month?

It feels great. I have qualified through my world-ranking points, so I deserve to be here. That feels great. Back in Asia we play for limited points, so to make it from there makes me feel good, and it makes me feel more at home and ease. I deserve to be here as much as anybody else.

If, at the start of the year, anyone had said I would be playing two majors within a month, I would have been super excited.

The Anirban of old has changed into someone who has more patience and calm. The difference over the last three years is striking. How has that change come about and how has it helped?

I am not sure if my parents, wife will agree (smiles). It has been tough but it has helped my career graph grow. But I can say it has also been bumpy. I have relied a lot on meditation through this period and it has helped me.

Personally, I have to try very hard to stay calm, it is not something that comes naturally. As a child, I had major anger management issues and I had anxiety issues, and despite having learnt to overcome them, there is a tendency to fall back on it. I need to work hard on it and stay calm, I stay conscious of it.

Finally, from the time you turned professional, has your career shaped up the way you would have wanted?

It was September 2007 when I turned pro—it was the Indian Open and I missed the cut. It has been a long but fruitful journey. But I need to look forward, not back.

For me, golf has been about the unknown. I never played golf to turn professional. Five or six years into junior golf, it was about playing for India. That was the deal, and it ended there. Then when I got there, which is playing as an amateur and for India, somewhere professional golf came along. It has been about little steps and new targets. I just want to look forward and be the best I can.

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