Updated March 6th, 2024 at 19:47 IST

Will do everything in my power to earn points for Olympic qualification: Anirban Lahiri

Having played "well below his potential" in the last two Olympics, Indian golfer Anriban Lahiri said he will do everything in his power to qualify for the Paris Games and make a bid for a dream podium finish at the quadrennial showpiece.

Golf | Image:ANI
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Having played "well below his potential" in the last two Olympics, Indian golfer Anriban Lahiri said he will do everything in his power to qualify for the Paris Games and make a bid for a dream podium finish at the quadrennial showpiece.

Lahiri, who switched to LIV Golf from the USPGA in 2022 and shifted his base from Florida to Dubai, has been handicapped in his endeavour to secure a Paris berth because the new rival entity cannot grant world ranking points to qualify for the Olympics.

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The 36-year-old will have to compete in the limited tournaments available outside LIV Golf and hope to earn enough points and then keep his fingers crossed for a Paris berth.

"It's very important for me to represent my country. I have been at the Olympics a couple of times, both times I've played well below my potential and it's something that I would love to change," said Lahiri during an interaction facilitated by FanCode.

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"To be able to do that, I need those world ranking points. Unfortunately, that is the only qualification system even though, in my opinion, that shouldn't be the case.

"But because that is the way it is, I am actually trying to play as many tournaments as I can outside of the LIV Golf schedule," said Lahiri.

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The former world no. 33 had made the switch to the rival LIV Golf within months of his greatest achievement of finishing runners-up at the The Players Championship, an annual tournament on the PGA Tour, in 2022.

Lahiri said he will play a few tournaments in Asia, including the Indian Open later this month, to earn points and be in contention for Paris.

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"I am playing in Macao next week, I played in Oman two weeks ago, I'm playing the Indian Open. Most likely, add one-two more tournaments in May before the (Olympic qualification) deadline of second week of June.

"So, I'm going to do everything in my power to give myself the opportunity to earn those points however it is possible," said the 2015 Indian Open winner, who will be seen at the DLF Golf & Country Club from March 28-31 after nearly five years bidding for his second national title.

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"And that's (performance) all I can really control. I can't control the outcome, I can't control whether I do make it to the team but I can put in the effort and my commitment, which is 110 per cent." After a phenomenal 2015, which saw him win twice on the European Tour, and the T5 finish at the PGA Championship aiding his elevation to the PGA Tour, Anirban had a comparatively quiet year, until he finished runner-up at The Players Championship in 2022.

Lahiri would hope luck shines on him again as he begins the crucial phase of his Olympic qualification journey. He is currently ranked 350 in the world, while Shubhankar Sharma (201) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (229) are the front runners to make the cut for Paris.

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At the Tokyo Games, Aditi Ashok was in contention for a medal until the 17th hole before falling short by a stroke to finish fourth. She The 25-year-old from Bengaluru had won the Asian Games silver in Hangzhou last year and also secured her second victory of the Ladies European Tour season, clinching the Costa del Sol Open de Espana.

Asked about India's chances at the Paris Olympics, Lahiri said: "Difficult question to answer because golf is a sport which is very difficult to look at a personal best in terms of a swimmer or an athlete and say 'oh this guy has got a good chance'.

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"I do feel that Aditi has been playing really well and Gagan (Gaganjeet Bhullar) has been playing really well. Shubhankar (Sharma) has played very well on the golf course (in Paris, which will be used during the Olympics). I think Shubhankar should be a lock definitely on that flight to Paris.

"Whoever gets there (Paris) I just... I hope it's me along with the rest of the team but we have to prepare. At the end of the day, anyone of us can get on the podium but we need to peak at the right time," he concluded. 

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Published March 6th, 2024 at 19:47 IST