Anirbarn Lahiri flying back home to support the Indian Open, rather than taking charter flights to the WGC-Mexico Championship, is one of the most selfless scheduling decisions I’ve ever seen a tour pro make. To Lahiri, who is renting a home at PGA National, it was the only decision. “I’ve seen the sport grow very, very slowly [back home],” Lahiri explained to me at the Honda Classic. “It’s struggled, but it’s moving in the right direction. When I went back last year for the Indian Open, I saw so many more kids come out who were interested in the sport.” Besides the free, non-commercial air travel, Lahiri will also be giving up the ease of commuting through the Florida Swing versus flying back from Delhi to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks. “I’ll be here for years and years. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of opportunities at all these events,” he told me. "But it’s important for me to go back [to India], just as it is going back to Bay Hill, especially with Arnie’s passing.”
Rory McIlroy hit the first drive of his “competitive” return on Monday in the Pro-Member at Seminole, a high draw over the corner of a dogleg to set up an easy pitch to the green. The Northern Irishman has been at his base camp at The Bears Club over the last three weeks, as part of a six-week plan to overcome a fractured rib suffered from testing new equipment in the off-season. Working under the supervision of his sports doctor, Steve McGregor, and swing coach Michael Bannon, McIlroy has taken a smart path to being ready for the Masters in six weeks. Rory was playing in the same group with his father, Gerry, one of Seminole’s new members in its class of 2017. Gerry’s partner was Smylie Kaufman. Rory played with John Pinkham. They won the event in 2014.
Where Rickie Fowler is coming from in regard to the Seminole Pro-Member. Fowler and hisU.S. Walker Cup captain, Buddy Marucci, have won the one-day event three times, but getting his name on the locker-room wall was just part of the experience for the Honda Classic champion. “For me, it's a special day because I had a day there a few years back that I'll never forget,” Fowler said in his post-round news conference. “I got to play with the King. So I got to go 18 holes with Arnie. So yeah, Seminole is always going to be special for that reason.” I also heard from a friend working Fowler’s security detail at the Honda about Rickie inviting all the officers assigned to his duty for a round of golf at PGA National two weeks before the tournament. That’s not just local knowledge. It’s local karma. “They showed me where to hit it and some places where not to hit it.” Fowler said. “But I told them, that was a valuable practice round.” It was valuable considering Fowler got out of jail from some of those places following errant drives on Sunday.