Kolkata:Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri has earned a berth to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as he was placed 60th in the Final Olympic Golf Rankings list which was published on Tuesday.
Lahiri, a former Asia No. 1 and two-time winner on the European Tour, will thus be playing his second successive Olympic Games. Anirban, a PGA Tour regular, had previously turned out for India along with SSP Chawrasia at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
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.
Anirban has not had the best of seasons on the PGA Tour this year with just two top-10s in 16 starts and his FedEx Cup ranking being 118. His season was further hampered when he got down with Covid-19 in late April and thus had to miss out on a string of events on the PGA Tour till mid-May.
Lahiri, who’s 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.
Speaking to the PGTI earlier today, 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.
“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.
“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.
“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 Tokyo 2020.
The men’s qualification system for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games commenced on July 1, 2018 and originally was to have concluded on June 22, 2020, while the women’s was to have run from July 8, 2018 through to June 29, 2020.
However, following the postponement of the Olympics to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGF and International Olympic Committee announced in April 2020 an adjustment to the qualifying system where athletes would accumulate Olympic Ranking points through June 2021. The extended three-year qualification process for the men’s golf competition was completed on June 21.
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.
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.
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 Olympic Games.(UNI)