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Golfer Anirban Lahiri finding it tough to qualify for Paris Olympics

Olympian golfer Anirban Lahiri might not appear for a third time at the Olympics in Paris due lack of tournaments and ranking points.

Anirban Lahiri Golf

Anirban Lahiri


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 15 April 2024 1:21 PM GMT

New Delhi: The Indian squad for the men’s golf competition at the upcoming Paris Olympics, which is a little more than 100 days away, is still undecided. Anirban Lahiri, one of the most accomplished golfers from the country, might not make his third consecutive appearance in the quadrennial sporting extravaganza.

Lahiri had represented India in Rio 2016, where the sport made its return after a gap of 104 years, and individually finished 57th partnering with four-time European Tour winner SSP Chawrasia, who posted a tied 50th result. In Tokyo 2020, Lahiri scripted a tied 42nd finish and his partner Udayan Mane registered a 56th-place result.

Lahiri came close to registering a win on the PGA Tour on a couple of occasions including a second-place finish in the 2022 Players Championship. However, the 36-year-old later the same year decided to be part of the rebel LIV Golf Tour, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, with a reported joining fee of $7 million. This meant he would miss out on crucial world ranking points which are essential to qualify for Major championships as well as Olympic Games.

At World No. 431, Lahiri is far behind when it comes to qualifying for Paris 2024.

As of now, two-time European Tour champion Shubhankar Sharma and 11-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar seem the frontrunners for representing India in the Olympics. At 189th spot, Sharma is the highest-ranked professional in the Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) in 46th place. Bhullar at World No. 247 is placed 53rd on the OGR.

To understand why Lahiri could miss the flight to Paris, one has to understand the qualification process for Paris 2024, created by the International Golf Federation (IGF).

Qualification Process for the 2024 Paris Olympics

The Olympic field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s golf competitions.

“The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15,” says a statement on the IGF website.

Interestingly, there aren’t enough tournaments for Lahiri to compete and sneak into the OGR before the final cut-off date of June 17, with the men’s event scheduled to be staged at the famed 2018 Ryder Cup venue – Le Golf National – from August 1-4.

Saudi Open (April 17-20) and GS Caltex Maekyung Open (May 2-5) are the only two events he can participate in unless he receives sponsor invitations on the European Tour, like the recently concluded Hero Indian Open.

But the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) has downgraded the ranking points on the Asian Tour after it got into a financial agreement with LIV Golf.

“Unless I play well this week and potentially one or two more events, there’s not much for me to look forward to, unfortunately. I am trying my best. That’s a big motivating factor for me this week, to play well outside, like I said. At the end of the week, it becomes noise, because you’re still trying to win the event. But yeah, I’d love to go to Paris. It's just how it is," said Anirban

“Play well or I don’t play well, it doesn’t reflect in the current World Golf Rankings, unfortunately. But you know, that’s how it is. So I have to do the best within whatever opportunities I have and that’s on me,” Lahiri said in the pre-tournament presser for the Hero Indian Open in Gurugram.

That leaves Lahiri with limited opportunities to try his luck to qualify for Paris 2024. Hopefully, some miracle might happen in the next couple of months and the Dubai-based pro might compete at the fabled Le Golf National.

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