The highest-ranked Indian golfer in the world, Rashid Khan, believes that he will have to be on top of his game at the PGTI and the Asian Tour level events if he is to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
The 29-year-old Khan was poised to represent India at Tokyo 2020 had the Summer Games gone ahead as per plans. But with the postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic allowing others to catch up, Rashid Khan will have to ensure he stays on course for his Olympic debut.
“I have to play well at the PGTI circuit because the race for the Olympics in India has opened up a bit,” Rashid Khan told the Times of India on the sidelines of the PGTI Players Championships in Panchkula near Chandigarh.
“This event will help me to assess my game and skills after eight months of no competitive golf… The Olympic qualification is at stake and I need to perform consistently to ensure that I maintain a healthy lead over others,” Rashid Khan added.
Placed 252 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), Rashid Khan continues to be among the 60 golfers eligible to compete at the Tokyo Games.
But with the likes of Udayan Mane (290), Shubhankar Sharma (348) and Shiv Kapur (409) close on his heels, Rashid Khan realises his place at Tokyo 2020 is far from confirmed.
Shubhankar Sharma and Shiv Kapur have been in action competing at the various events across Europe since competitive golf resumed in July. But Rashid Khan hasn’t had that luxury since he doesn’t hold a European Tour card.
But with the PGTI organising five events before the year-end, the New Delhi golfer - who could only practice during the lockdown - is excited to have competitive golf back.
“Training and playing competitively are two vastly different things,” Rashid Khan said. “I was hoping for the PGTI tour to restart because it will help me in earning crucial world ranking points for the Tokyo Olympic qualification. Before the lockdown, I was placed 180 on the rankings chart but have since slipped to 252.”
The Panchkula event will be followed by the another Players Championships in Chandigarh from November 9-12.
The city will then host the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational on December 3-6, while the Indian Oil Servo Masters Golf in Digboi will be held on December 9-12.
PGTI hopes to wrap up the year with the Tata Steel Tour Championship in Jamshedpur from December 17-20.