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Tokyo Olympics : A look at India's Golf contingent

Staff Staff

Along with Anirban Lahiri and Aditi Ashok, Udayan Mane makes it a team of three that will be heading to Tokyo as India’s golf representatives. While Anirban sealed the final qualification spot of the 60-man list, Aditi was comfortably inside the cut for the Tokyo Games and was ranked 45th when the list was announced a few days earlier. Udayan made the cut when world number 74, Emiliano Grillo, pulled out of the Games and Udayan got the reservation slot ahead of Argentine Fabián Gómez.

Let’s take a look at how our golfers have fared over the years and how prepared they are ahead of the Summer Olympics.

 

Men’s Singles

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri will be gearing up for his second Olympics appearance after making the cut as a top 60 entrant in the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers. Anirban joined the Asian Tour in 2008 and it was only after three years in 2011 when he won his first tournament at the Panasonic Open. Lahiri continued his steady progress as he notched up three more titles, finishing 3rd on the Order of Merit in 2013. The Indian golfer broke into the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in March 2014.

In 2015, at the PGA Championship, Anirban posted rounds of 70-67-70-68 for a score of 13 under par. Lahiri had his best finish at a major tournament, a tied fifth place, that set a new record for the highest finish by an Indian professional golfer in a major. Anirban went on to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but the Indian golfer finished a lowly 57th out of the 60 entrants, although he was carrying an injury throughout the tournament. At the 2017 Memorial Tournament, he registered his best-ever performance on the PGA Tour by finishing tied for second place. Anirban struggled during the 2019 season and lost his PGA Tour card in the process. He gained it back through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals by finishing 10th overall.

The 33-year-old has struggled of late and is currently ranked 340 in the world and the golfer himself says he wasn’t expecting to qualify for the Olympics given his below-par performances this year. Lahiri made the cut for the Olympics at the 60th spot – the last quota available as per the International Golf Federation rankings. India was eligible for one spot and Anirban made the cut being the highest-ranked Indian golfer. Talking to Firstpost, Lahiri said, “I know what it is to be an Olympian as I’ve done it before (Rio) and I don’t want to be just an Olympian. I want to win a medal, I want to do something that makes a difference. I know winning a PGA Tour event will do that but winning a medal will help even do more. I do have a certain responsibility towards the game and my country.

 

Also Read – TOKYO OLYMPICS: INDIAN ARCHERY CONTINGENT

 

Udayan Mane

Udayan Mane was a late entrant as he made the cut for the Tokyo Games following the withdrawal of Argentine Emiliano Grillo. Mane was a reserve player behind Grillo who, as world number 74, was the lone Argentine representative, with the next best Argentine being Fabián Gómez at 404 while Mane was ranked 354th at the time. Mane was the leading Indian at one point during the qualification phase and looked set to book his berth to Tokyo, but the pandemic made him lose out on important Asian Tour and then Indian Tour events as he drastically plummeted down the rankings.

From late 2019 till the time the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Udayan won four events in quick succession as he broke the top 300 barrier for the first time. And since the resumption of golf in India in late 2020, Mane hasn’t been able to find his A-game, with a tied third-place finish at the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship by Panchkula Golf Club being his best performance in 2020. Udayan returned to winning ways by lifting the Delhi-NCR Open 2021 trophy, played earlier in March. Mane is currently ranked 360th in the world but is optimistic ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

I am thrilled but am still waiting for the official communication. I hope it comes soon. After being a certainty at one point last year, the rankings have been coming down and I couldn’t do much because I had no events to play. It was almost depressing but I stuck to practice and workouts,” said Udayan Mane.

 

Also Read – TOKYO OLYMPICS: INDIA’S SAILING CONTINGENT

 

Women’s Singles 

Aditi Ashok

Just like Anirban, Aditi Ashok will be participating in her second Olympic Games. Aditi finished 45th on the qualification list released a few days earlier. In 2016, Ashok became the youngest and the first Indian to win the Lalla Aicha Tour School and secured her Ladies European Tour card for the 2016 season. And later when she qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she became the first and only Indian golfer who played the Asian Youth Games, Youth Olympic Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games. Aditi then went on to win the 2016 Hero Women’s Indian Open and two weeks later won her second title at the Qatar Ladies Open, finishing the season second on Order of Merit and winning the Rookie of the Year award.

Ashok also gained an LPGA Tour card for 2017 via the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. In 2017, she became the first LPGA player from India and finished eighth in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings. She has been decent in the last couple of years, making the cut for most events. This year, the 23-year-old made the cut at the Ann Inspiration major tournament, but a tumbled out of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after carding a disappointing five-over-par 77, while not participating at the US Women’s Open.

Taking to Twitter to express her joy at making the cut for the Tokyo Olympics, Aditi wrote: “I still think of Rio 2016 like it was only yesterday. To have the honour of playing for India is beyond exciting. I am privileged to have the opportunity to represent my country and my sport at the Games again.

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