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Golfers Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane prepare to tee off in Tokyo

For Anirban, 34, Tokyo will be his second Olympic appearance following the 2016 Rio Games where he finished 56 out of 59. Udayan, ranked 356, was the first reserve and made the cut after pull-outs.

Written by SS Manoj |
July 28, 2021 8:42:21 pm
Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, a 50km drive from the Tokyo Olympic Games Village, on the eve of the tee-off on Thursday. (IGF)

It just won’t be a guest appearance by three Indian golfers – Aditi Ashok in the women’s category and Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane in the men’s category – when the golf event in 2020 Olympic Games begins at Kasumigaseki Country Club, 50km from Games village on Thursday.

The only similarity among the three is that all three have a Bengaluru connection while Anirban and Udaya even train with the same coach Vijay Divecha whenever they are in the city.

Aditi, 23, had represented India in the 2016 Rio Games too with her dad Ashok Gudlamani doubling as her caddie and finished 41st among 59 finishers. The 2017 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the year is wiser and experienced and is expected to do a good show in Tokyo after all he played in close to 10 LPGA events with a top finish of tied 23 in Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala Golf Course, Florida this May.

For Anirban, 34, Tokyo will be his second Olympic appearance following the 2016 Rio Games where he finished 56 out of 59. This time he is yet to fully recover from Coronovirus but when the offer to represent his country again he did not want to let it go either.

Speaking to the International Golf Federation website, Anirban said he is determined to put India on the golfing map and return home with a podium finish

“The Olympics is a big deal. We had our first silver (women’s weightlifter Mirabhai Chanu) on the first day of the Games, which was the first time it’s happened. I’m beginning to see the ripples beginning to take effect at home and I can feel how it will boost that sport positively and I would love for it to happen in golf. This is a great opportunity to have a first with golf … for us to change the perception and attitude,” Anirban was quoted as saying. “You’re not here for yourself this week. Anirban Lahiri is not playing for Anirban Lahiri. I’m playing for India, for my motherland,” he added.

Udayan, ranked 356, was the first reserve and made the cut after Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo pulled out of the quadrennial event while Anirban, world No. 340, became No. 59 in the IGF list. At Rio, SSP Chawrasia gave company to Anirban.

Bengaluru golfer S Chikkarangappa who has several top finishes in the PGTI Tour and Rupesh will be the caddies for Anirban and Udayan, respectively.

Udayan, 30, has several triumphs and top-three finishes in the PGTI Tour including Bengal Open and TATA Steel meet at Panchkula which helped him meet the Olympic qualification.

“If we can win a medal, people will know what golf is, all the 1.2 billion people in India. There’ll be more kids taking up golf as new opportunities staring at them. It will change how everyone looks at golf in India. Cricket will always be No. 1 but we’ll at least be able to shorten the gap,” Udayan told IGF. Sharing his experience at Games Village, Udayan admitted that he had to concentrate on his fitness!

Udayan was the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year in 2015 and went on to become India No.2 in 2017. Before turning pro in 2015, Udayan was India’s No. 1 amateur in 2014 and represented India at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and finished just out of the medal bracket.

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