India’s top-ranked golfer Anirban Lahiri believed the hatred and animosity against the rebel LIV Golf Series has been misplaced. The lucrative LIV Golf Series is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and has left the golf world divided by poaching some of the best players from across the globe with huge contracts.
LIV Golf is currently locked in a legal battle with the PGA Tour, which believes its status quo has been threatened by the introduction of the rebel series. While PGA has already banned the players who have signed with LIV Golf, DP World Tour – the other leading golf property in the world has only slapped fines.
The PGA Tour had recently countersued LIV Golf accusing the Saudi-backed league of attracting players unfairly by offering them whopping contracts. While the legal battle continues, the numerous top stars who have joined LIV, have been enjoying life in the new circuit and hope for the animosity to take a backseat soon.
Lahiri, who is the first Indian to have signed up with LIV Golf, spoke with WION on the sidelines of the Liv Golf invitational in Bangkok and said the game should not suffer because of the hatred towards the league. Lahiri also urged all parties involved to keep the interests of the fans above theirs.
“It should not have started with so much vitriol and animosity. It was very misplaced. There are three angles to it the way I look at it, there is the business angle in terms of the organisation, there is the angle of the players which is us and where we find ourselves in all of this, and there are fans who love golf,” said Lahiri.
“I think the first aspect which is the organisational sort of animosity has spilt over to the second aspect which is the players and that is affecting the fans. I would love for the pyramid to be reversed where you put fans ahead and say let’s make golf something that people love to watch like it used to be. And not force just one kind of golf on them.
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It’s not about good and bad. I think that’s where this whole conversation has completely fallen on itself and golf has gotten divided. If you love golf, and you want to watch good golf that’s all that should matter. Not one golf is good and the other golf is bad, I do not agree or subscribe to that. I think the focus needs to come back to golf,” he explained.
The Indian golfer revealed he has a lot of friends, who have understood his decision and have supported him in his choice while there are others who he has had a fallout with due to joining LIV Golf. Lahiri wants PGS Tour and LIV Golf to sort out their differences and learn to co-exist as he believes the game has suffered a lot already.
“Just to begin with, it should not have gotten to where we have gotten. I have a lot of friends on the other side so to speak, who understand and get what I am doing and are okay with it. I have some who have fallen out with me which is really sad to see and that’s something that needs to go away,” said Lahiri.
“At the end of the day, we all respect each other, everybody is making their own decisions on their own choices which is fine but at the end of the day, I don’t think golf should suffer. I think golf has suffered enough in the last few months. Going forward, if the organisations can put their spat aside, I think it will be good for golf in the long run and it has to go that way, it has to co-exist,” he added.
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Being a professional golfer is not an easy job as Lahir, like many others, has to spend days away from family while playing on tours. However, the Indian golfer considers himself lucky to be doing what he has grown up loving and credits his family for their sacrifices which allow him to focus on his job on the field.
“I don’t look at it negatively, I think we are very privileged to be doing what we are doing. We are very honoured to have this life, to be able to play a sport that you love for a living is something that I will never take lightly. Yes every job has its demands, and if you look at the job of playing professional golf, there is a huge demand on the family, the cost is borne by the wife and the kids,” Lahiri said.
“Because once we get to a tournament, we are so focused on what we are doing. We kind of go into an alternate space where it’s routine, I need to go to the gym, wake up do this, stretch, play, work out, and practice, we are almost so regimented that everything else ceases to exist for us so we are physically, emotionally absent from the rest of your family.
When you are single, you are young, and it’s easy to do that but I do feel like I am getting pulled in other directions which is why moving to LIV Golf, playing a little less and spending time with the family was also something that attracted me towards it,” he added.