Race to Tokyo wide open for Indian golfers with qualification extension
The International Golf Federation’s (IGF) decision to extend the qualifying period for Tokyo 2020 will provide a welcome boost to Indian golfers Shubhankar Sharma, Shiv Kapur and Anirban Lahiri.
With the Olympics postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IGF and International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday confirmed an adjustment to the qualifying system.
“Having received from the IOC confirmation of the dates for when the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be held and the qualification principles,” IGF Executive Director Antony Scanlon said. “The fairest and most equitable way to determine the qualifying athletes was to align the previous qualification system with these new dates.
According to the IGF announcement, the one year delay of the Olympics means that players can now collect Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) points through a period ending in June 2021.
This makes it a year-long extension from the original cutoff date that was originally scheduled to conclude in June this year.
Players can now earn Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) points through a period ending on June 21, 2021, for men and June 28, 2021, for women.
Where the Indian golfers stand
When the IGF decided to freeze rankings on March 15, Aditi Ashok and Diksha Dagar were the leading women in contention, with Rashid Khan and Udayan Mane the men who were at the forefront for sealing Olympic slots for India.
Rashid Khan and Udayan Mane are currently 185th and 223rd respectively in the official world golf rankings while Aditi Ashok is 148th and Diksha Dagar finds herself 317th in the women’s order with Tvesa Malik the next best at a distant 623rd.
Among men, Shubhankar Sharma (283), Shiv Kapur (287), Ajeetesh Sandhu (354), S Chikkarangappa (383), Aman Raj (408), Gaganjeet Bhullar (418), Veer Ahlawat (448) and Olympian Anirban Lahiri (497) will also be in the chase for the two slots.
While most of the men play on Asian and European Tours, Anirban Lahiri is India’s sole representative on PGA apart from occasional starter Arjun Atwal.
Aditi Ashok, meanwhile, has been plying her trade in the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour while Diksha Dagar too has been on the LET.
Anirban Lahiri, who has turned to Yoga during India’s nationwide lockdown, will know that he needs a few good finishes on PGA, while the rest of the chasing pack require wins on Asian Tour or European Tour to return to qualification race.
At the end of the new qualifying period, the top-15 players will be eligible for the Olympics with a maximum of four players from a country allowed.
Outside the top-15, players can qualify based on the world rankings with a limit of two eligible players from countries that don’t already have two or more players in the top-15.