Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Ace golfer Udayan Mane has made the cut to become the second Indian in the 60-player field in the men’s golf event at Tokyo Olympics, after Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo announced his withdrawal from the quadrennial event.
The 30-year-old Udayan, the second-highest ranked Indian in the world at 356, qualified for Tokyo on the basis of being first reserve against Grillo’s name.
The official announcement of Udayan’s qualification for the Olympics was made this evening on the International Golf Federation’s (IGF) website with Mane being placed No. 60 on the Olympic Golf Rankings list-Anirban Lahiri moved up to No. 59.
Two weeks back, Anirban Lahiri, the highest-ranked Indian golfer at 340, because first Indian male golfer to qualify for Tokyo following some withdrawals from the list of qualified players.
Talking to the Professional golf Tour of India (PGTI) Mane said, “I’m really excited about getting the opportunity to represent India at the Olympics. In fact, I’m still pinching myself as it hasn’t yet sunk in fully. With a great 2020-21 season on the PGTI, I felt that I had almost sealed my qualification for the Olympics but the lockdown this year put some doubts in my mind whether I could actually make the cut for Tokyo.
“The only tours which have recently been operational are the PGA Tour and European Tour and I thought the players from those tours had a real chance of pushing through and qualifying for the Olympics.”
“ We now have a chance to shine on the world stage and qualify for many events that we would otherwise not have a chance to play in such as the Olympics. I’ve qualified for Tokyo solely through the PGTI. I was the top-ranked Indian for a better part of the last one year despite playing on a relatively smaller tour.” he said
With the PGTI becoming a part of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system in 2019, Mane have taken full advantage. His performances over the last two seasons including two wins in 2019 and three wins in 2020-21 earned him valuable OWGR points that finally helped him qualify for the Olympics.
Interestingly, Anirban Lahiri, had also picked up some crucial OWGR points while playing on the PGTI when he finished runner-up at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational Presented by TAKE in December 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.
Mane said, “I’m looking forward to joining Anirban in the Indian team at Tokyo. He’s not only a good friend but also a great golfer and a role-model .He teaches us on the golf course and off the golf course. He’s the best person to emulate. We’ve been in contact with each other now over the phone more often because ever since he found out about my qualification, he’s also been quite excited.”
“I spoke to Rahil Gangjee about the conditions in Japan, it’s expected to be the beginning of summer so I guess it will be cool in the mornings and evenings and a little warm in the afternoons. I have played in Japan before during the 2014 Eisenhower Trophy when I shot a 14-under for the week and finished 13th at the event. Until 2018 that was the best finish and score by an Indian at the event. So, Japan has been nice to me on the only occasion I’ve been there.
“As far as preparation for the playing conditions in Japan is concerned, I’ll only be able to figure out the conditions after I get there. I don’t know how far or short the ball may go with each club compared to my standard yardages here in India. What I have done is hit balls off bare lies so that my striking is a little more in tune, I’m a little more precise and I’m ready for everything. The routine is a lot more structured as I know what I’m doing throughout the day or for each day of the week and it’s been rigorous.
“The experience of already having competed at a multi-sport mega-event such as the 2014 Asian Games will in some way help me in adapting to the atmosphere of the Olympics. However, I’m sure the Olympics are unique in their own way. So, it’ll be something for me to experience first-hand and something that is well beyond my imagination.
“My approach will be that I’m playing just another golf course over four days and focus on the things that I have to do to beat the golf course every day or play my best on it every day. The key is to not let the scale of the event bother me but instead focus on how I prepare to do my best over four days on this golf course.” he added