Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Luck smiled on Anirban Lahiri as the Indian professional booked the last berth available for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after he was placed 60th in the Final Olympic Golf Rankings list .
The men’s golf event in the Games will feature 60 players and will be played at the Kasumigaseki Country Club from July 29 – August 1.
The top-15 world-ranked players are eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players are eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15. The host country is guaranteed a spot, as is each of the five continents of the Olympics.
“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. ” the golfer told Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
The Bengaluru based golfer whose current world ranking is 340, was on the reserve list, being a third reserve at best for many players, till Tuesday when the updated Olympic Golf Ranking was published. Thereafter, with a number of withdrawals, Anirban, who has appeared at 16 Majors, managed to make the cut-off for the Olympics.
“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.” he said
“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.” he said adding “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. But 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.”
India’s Udayan Mane is now 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 Udayan too may earn his berth at the Olympics.
Aditi Ashok is expected to represent India in the women’s golf event as she is currently placed 44th in the Olympic Golf Rankings. Like Anirban, Aditi too had turned out for India at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 60-player field for the women’s competition will be announced on 29th June.
Once the women’s Olympic Golf Rankings are finalized, the International Golf Federation (IGF) will send confirmation of the men’s and women’s quota places to the National Olympic Committees.
The NOCs will then confirm use of allocated quota places to the IGF by July 1 and the IGF, in turn, will reallocate all unused quota places before the Tokyo 2020 Sport Entries Deadline on July 5.