Updated: July 15, 2021 11:38:41 am
PROFESSIONAL GOLFER Udayan Mane, who is Tokyo-bound for his first Olympics, feels that Japan holds “good karma” for him. The 30-year-old, along with leading Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri will represent India in the 60-player field. The men will compete at Kasumigaseki Country Club from July 29 to August 1.
On Wednesday, both players, who have close ties to Poona Club Golf Course, were facilitated as well as given ‘playing rights for lifetime’ in the presence of club president Nitin Desai, captain of Poona Club Golf Course Lalit Chinchankar and other committee members.
Candid about his qualification, Mane said, “It has still not sunk in. As there was a lack of tournaments in India and to suddenly jump into the Olympics, which is the biggest and grandest stage of all, there is a cocktail of emotions coursing through me now.”
Mane is currently the second-highest ranked Indian in the world at 356 and made the cut after Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo announced his withdrawal late in June. “I had previously qualified twice when I was playing regularly. I was not playing amid this lockdown so I was out of the race, and then suddenly, I had news that I am in it. I am proud and happy that it all worked out and I hope that I bring back glory,” he said.
Mane had a stellar amateur career, being India number 1, before turning professional. The same year, Mane had played at the Incheon Asian Games and the Eisenhower Trophy. “My mother frequented Japan often and in 2014 when I had to play at the Eisenhower Cup, one of the comforting things I held onto was when my father said there is nothing but good karma there, there is nothing I should be intimidated by and feel nothing but confidence,” he said.
Besides the looming pandemic, Mane said golf is a sport that varies from course to course and it is the responsibility of the golfer to adapt. “We play in so many countries and continents. The wind, the temperature, the grass type vary every course so I believe those are the main challenges. I have also been fortunate to get the permission to practise at the Poona Club golf course,” he added.
Talking about meeting compatriot Lahiri and playing with him at the Olympics, Mane said, “I am sure I will be able to get some pointers on how to keep calm. He has always looked out for me. He advises me on and off the course. I will be happy with a medal, but I will still be happy if we get a medal or through a good finish,” he said.