Tag Archives: Anirban Lahiri

Golf: Anirban Lahiri makes the cut, will play his second successive Olympics

Harpal Singh Bedi 

Anirban Lahiri Photo © Arep Kulal/Asian Tour/Asian Tour via Getty Images

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.

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I’m back on the course, close to playing my best golf: Anirban Lahiri

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: Putting behind dismal  2019-20 PGA Tour season, ace golfer  Anirban Lahiri feels that he is back on the course and is in good form this season

Lahiri  who did not  secure a single top-25 finish last season  has made a decent start to the 2020-21 PGA Tour  having posted a tied sixth and two other finishes inside the top-40 from his three starts so far.” “I feel I’m definitely close to playing my best golf. How close, I don’t know. Might be this week, might be two weeks from now .

In a virtual interview conducted by the PGA Tour ahead of this week’s Bermuda Championship, Anirban spoke about his current form, spending time in India during the lockdown and playing events during the pandemic. .

Reflecting  on his time spent away from the game earlier this year Lahiri said “I came to India for the Indian Open and we all know what happened after that. So yeah, I think being away from the game for 70‑something days, I didn’t hit a golf ball, I didn’t have my golf clubs with me. 

They were at the academy and that was a challenge. It’s probably the longest I’ve been away from my clubs for 20 years, maybe more. 

“I think that also gives you some perspective. It builds the hunger to come back and motivates you, something that can suffer when you have an extended period of bad golf like I did, so that was the big take-away for me,” 

Lahiri, who represented India at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is currently ranked 566 in the world and thus not one of the top contenders at the moment for the two berths in the Indian Olympic team for next year. But the 33-year-old prefers to stay in the present and not think too far ahead.

“There’s a lot to play for and I’m in a position where I’m not getting into a lot of events. This is going to be my fourth event of the year and may even be the last just looking at how many entries have come in for the remainder of the events. So I have to make the most of it. 

“Without getting too far ahead into the future for other teams or Olympics or so many things that we have to play for and so many things that we aspire to do for ourselves, for our country, I think it all starts with right now and what I need to do right now and play well in the moment,” said Anirban, who is affectionately known as Baan to all those close to him.

While he was in India, Lahiri, a two-time participant at the Presidents Cup, also cherished the time he spent with younger Indian golfers like Udayan Mane and Chikkarangappa. 

Anirban said, “It was fantastic. You know, they’re family. At least that’s how I like to think about it. Chikka’s like a younger brother to me and so are a lot of other kids that I worked with that work with Vijay (Divecha) at his academy.

“So for me to be able to spend so much time at home with my friends and my family and my extended family was great. More than them picking my brains, I picked their brains. I try to learn from them. I try and pass on whatever knowledge I have or whatever experience I have and I enjoy doing it, too. I see so much talent, I see so much potential that sometimes I can’t help it, I’ll reach out to them and I’ll probably give them advice even when they don’t want it. So to that extent I feel old, I guess, like a veteran in some aspects.”

Speaking about his good recent form, he  emphasized on how spending time with his coach Vijay Divecha back in India during the lockdown helped him.

“I put in a lot of work during the lockdown when I was in India, put a lot of new processes, refreshed a lot of my old practices and things that used to work for me. I’ve been able to implement a lot of those changes so far this season. 

“Obviously spending extended time with my coach back in India made a huge difference and that’s beginning to show. I trust my game a lot more, I’m hitting my irons a lot better, which has basically always been my strength but not so much so in the last couple of year

Lahiri, who returns to competition at the Port Royal Golf Course after a three‑week break, said, “I’m really excited to be back. It’s been three good weeks. I got a lot of work done, took some time off, kind of reflected on the start and also looked at areas that I need to work on and get better at.

“I played some good golf at this venue last year with rounds of 66 and 73 before withdrawing in the third round. It’s a pretty nice golf course. It’s unique. Obviously the biggest challenge here is the wind and I consider myself to be a pretty good wind player. I’ve had a lot of good results at windy venues and the grasses are tropical, so it’s a lot like what I’m used to playing, primarily Bermuda”.

I think it’s been a bit of a mixed bag in my first three events this season. I’ve obviously had one good result and a couple of average results. I think the game has been a few loose holes every event, the game has been one bad round or mediocre round every event, and there’s been a lot of good golf and a lot of birdies and a lot of other positives as well.

“For me it was just identifying where some of those mistakes are coming from and what are the areas I need to tighten up. There’s definitely been some inconsistency with my iron play. My long game and driving by and large has been good. Barring one day out of the three events that I played, my putting’s been pretty solid. More or less most departments are in good shape barring the odd inconsistency, which is exactly what I was trying to work on over the last few weeks.

“It’s a matter of getting off to a good start. That’s something that I haven’t done as consistently, so I’ll be focusing on a good start and then keep my foot on the pedal or keep that momentum and keep myself in it all four days,” added Anirban, who has recently been working hard with his short game coach Jim Sieckmann.  

Interestingly, since the tour resumed, the Bermuda Championship will be the first event to allow a limited number of spectators on the course.

The PGA Tour resumed events in June this year when the Covid-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc across the world. This led the tour to introduce a lot of new rules and protocols for the safe conduct of events. The experience of playing in such circumstances has been a new one for all pros including Anirban.

“It’s obviously been a different kind of way to travel and play events. I think the Tour has done a great job of keeping us all healthy and safe ahead of everything else and still managed to conduct these events.,said the seven-time international winner.

“Once we get to the tournament, we follow all the protocols. We have to test almost twice a week every week just to make sure that everyone is healthy and safe. There’s lots of measures that have been implemented within the clubhouse. 

We still don’t have family and coaches and the support staff necessarily inside the bubble, just the caddies and the players at the moment. So all the precautions are in place and we’re all getting used to it,” added the two-time winner on the European Tour.

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