Kolkata: A somewhat indifferent year for Anirban Lahiri, a former Asia No. 1 and two-time winner on the European Tour, brightened up on Tuesday with the news that the Indian golfer has earned a berth for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Lahiri, who is currently ranked 340 in the world, was on the reserve list (being a third reserve at best for many players) till Tuesday when the updated Olympic golf rankings were published. A number of withdrawals, thereafter, saw Lahiri, a PGA Tour card holder who has appeared at 16 Majors, making the cut-off for what would be his second Olympics appearance after Rio.
Speaking to the Professional Golf Tour of India, a delighted Lahiri said: “Making it to the Olympics has been a pleasant surprise. It’s a little bit of a shock I would say as I knew that I hadn’t done enough to qualify for the Olympics. I’m overjoyed and so is my family. When I was having breakfast this morning I wasn’t in the Olympics, now I am.
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“To be honest, after getting the good news I had to think about whether I will compete at the Olympics as a lot of other factors are involved including my full recovery from Covid and my current position on the FedEx Cup standings,’’ said the US-based Lahiri.
“I was down with severe symptoms of Covid in late April and early May and was even admitted to the Emergency Room at a hospital for about three hours. Even after recovering from Covid, I have been feeling its after-effects. So I have to manage my workload for some time now.
“I also have a lot of work to do to retain my card on the PGA Tour as I’ve not had a great season so far. So to play the Olympics I have to plan my schedule and travel and also figure out a lot of logistics.
Finally, it was a quick and easy decision in favour of playing the Olympics as one doesn’t get such fortune for no reason. I cherish every opportunity of representing India and would never give up a chance like this
“Finally, it was a quick and easy decision in favour of playing the Olympics as one doesn’t get such fortune for no reason. I cherish every opportunity of representing India and would never give up a chance like this. The gods are definitely smiling on me. Now that I’ve qualified, I also need to prepare well for Tokyo in order to be at my best during the event,’’ said the 33-year-old professional.
Lahiri has not had the best of seasons on the Tour this year with just two top-10s in 16 starts and his FedEx Cup ranking being 118, while the bout with Covid in late April also didn’t help as he had to miss out on a string of events on the PGA Tour till mid-May.
He now joins Aditi Ashok as the second Indian golfer for the ‘greatest show on earth’, while India’s Udayan Mane is waiting in the wings - being a first reserve for several players. If there are withdrawals by some specific players over the next couple of weeks, there is a possibility that Mane too may earn his berth at Tokyo 2020.
The men’s golf event in Tokyo will feature 60 players and will be played at the Kasumigaseki Country Club from July 29-August 1.
The IGF will publish a final entries’ list of 60 names for both the men’s and women’s events on Tuesday, July 6, which will ratify all the competitors for the respective fields at the Games.