Feature

Anirban Lahiri seeks to ride Japanese experience to clinch Olympics glory

A minor injury prevented Lahiri from giving his best at Rio 2016 and now he has to qualify for the Games in Tokyo.

By Rahul Venkat ·

When golf returned to the Olympics after more than a century at Rio 2016, it presented a new platform to shine on for the world’s best golfers, not just for individual glory but to also bring pride to their countries.

Anirban Lahiri was among three Indian golfers - along with SSP Chawrasia and Aditi Ashok - to experience the feeling of representing the country at the grand stage.

Lahiri had carded 10-over to finish tied-57th as Englishman Justin Rose took home the first Olympic men’s gold in 112 years.

Though he was nursing a mild shoulder injury at Rio 2016, Anirban Lahiri feels he missed an opportunity to do better.

“I played disappointing golf at Rio 2016. Ever since I took a flight out of there, I have been wanting to take one to Tokyo. I feel like there is unfinished business at the Olympics for me,” Lahiri told the Olympic Channel.

“I need to earn another opportunity, another shot at hearing the national anthem. That’s a dream, so the Tokyo Olympics is definitely something I would like to focus my energies on.”

The qualification rules for the Olympics only allow for two players from any country outside the world’s top-15 to play at the Games.

Lahiri is currently the eighth best-ranked Indian golfer and will have to climb six places by June 21, 2021, the deadline to decide the final list of Olympic participants.

Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri dreams of representing his country at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

If he does manage to play a second-consecutive Olympics, it could be a favourable hunting ground for Lahiri, considering his previous experience of playing in Japan.

“I played the World Junior Championships there in 2005 and also many other events on the Asian Golf Tour since, so I have a sense of what to expect and what the conditions will be like,” Lahiri explained.

“Japan, as a country, has a small landmass and a hilly terrain in general. The courses are usually narrow and the cold weather means that the greens are fast – very ideal conditions for golf.”

Apart from the weather, one other factor that makes Japan a great place to play golf is the country’s love for the sport.

It has grown multi-fold recently, especially with the exploits of Hideki Matsuyama and Shugo Imahira, both of whom played at The Masters last week, and are ranked among the top-100 in the world.

“The fans are very respectful, they are some of the most knowledgeable and intelligible crowds in the world,” noted Lahiri.

“I really enjoy those aspects and playing the Olympics in Japan will be a good showcase for golf as a sport because it is one of those countries where golf is almost revered,” he signed off.

Where to watch the PGA Tour live in India

Indian golf fans can watch live broadcast of the PGA Tour on the Eurosport and Eurosport HD TV channels in India.