Erin (US), June 14 (PTI) Anirban Lahiri will be missing in action but Daniel Chopra will be among the three players with Indian connections at the US Open golf championships, the second Major of the season.
Chopra is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, while the two others are amateur Sahith Theegala and professional Aaron Rai, a winner on the European Challenge Tour.
All three came through the US Open qualifiers at various venues. While Theegala, now an American, has Indian parents, who went over years ago, Rai’s parents, also of Indian origin, arrived into England via Kenya, where they have shifted.
Lahiri will be missing his second successive Major after 10 straight appearances at Majors going back to the 2014 British Open.
While Chopra, who learnt his golf in India at the Delhi Golf Club and grew up with his grandfather in the Indian capital, will play with Kim Whee and Ted Potter Jr. in the first group to tee off from the tenth tee, Rai is paired with Yusaku Miyazoto and JT Poston.
Amateur Theegala is paired with Daniel Miernicki and Tyler Light. Both Chopra and Rai have also played in Hero Indian Open in recent past.
The good news for the golfers is that after concerns expressed by some players that Erin Hills’ thick seedhead fescue was too penalizing, there were reports that they have been cut back on four holes.
Defending champion, Dustin Johnson, who missed the first Major of the season because of a freak injury falling off the stairs at his rental home in Augusta, is the favorite heading into the tournament.
Other big stars expected to contend over the weekend are world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, also back from a injury, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson.
But one stat that will stay uppermost in the minds of all will be that the last Major champions have been first-timers, who had never won a Major before.
Phil Mickelson, who has said he will skip the US Open if the start is not delayed as he is due to attend his daughter’s high school ceremony, now seems to have an outside chance, as there is 50-50 possibility of a thunderstorm at the start Thursday.
That could well mean a fairy-tale story for Mickelson who needs a US Open to complete a career slam and has six second places.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.