Pro Golf – Olympics
34-year-old Anirban Lahiri is headed for Tokyo to represent India for a consecutive second time at the Olympics. Last week, he addressed the media in a virtual press conference from Illinois, the venue for John Deere Classic. Lahiri talked about topics ranging from his fight with COVID-19, his charity work with Akshay Patra, restrictions at the Tokyo Olympics, his teammate Udayan Mane, the Rio experience and what he looks forward to doing this time and his PGA Tour career status.
Anirban has decided to have his long-time friend and coach Vijay Divecha’s student from Bangalore, Chikkarangappa S. as his caddie at the Olympics. He believes that the bond they share is going to be extremely crucial for his performance in Japan, including the bond with another Bangalore based player, Udayan Mane.
On choosing Chikkarangappa as his caddie, Anirban added, “I’m really happy, very happy that India is going to be fully represented in the men’s event. Hopefully I can correct what I felt like I couldn’t do last time, and obviously Mane being with me, it’ll be nice. Also having my dear friend, my little brother Chikkarangappa caddying for me is also something that I’m looking forward to. We’ll have three of us there, all we just are students, all motivated with the same goal, which is to bring glory to our country.”
“In terms of having someone who I can talk to who can help me, I think one of the reasons I asked Chikka to come and caddie for me is because he understands my game, he has the same amount of passion that any of us do about doing well for our country, and also he brings that extra to the table because we’ve played so much competitive golf together, he knows what I do and what I don’t do when I’m playing well and when I don’t.
I think to some extent, I also factored that when I made that decision, so that’s also going to fill up that gap, I think, to have someone to talk to, someone who’s going to push me and give it to me straight.”
Anirban had to miss almost a month of competition on the PGA Tour in May due to COVID-19, which hit his coach Vijay Divecha, wife and two-year old daughter.
Lahiri lost 7.5kgs in 10 days. Lost all of his muscle mass, which he had built over 10 months of training pre-COVID, losing speed and distance. In all, Lahiri lost over a month and a half due to COVID-19.
Lahiri also shared his charity work with Akshay Patra, he added, “one of the reasons behind going with them is because they’re doing a lot of work specifically for the migrant laborers, for kids whose parents are not around. There are specific areas where we really want contributions to go, but more than anything else we want to know for sure that the money is being utilized in the right way.
I would actually encourage people if they want to even do their own research and contribute. It’s not so much for one or two organizations, it’s for the overall effort.”
When asked about the decision to play at the Olympics and how different it is from a regular PGA Tour event, Lahiri said, “I think the biggest difference, about the Olympic pressure is you don’t get anything for coming fourth. It’s a race to the podium, and it’s a bit of a sprint. Even though it’s a four-day event, you have to be more aggressive. I think you have to go slightly — it’s more of all or nothing because that’s really what you are there for, and I think that’s what the biggest difference is in golf, because if you look at a lot of the other sports, it works in the same fashion. If you finish in the top three, whether it’s swimming, whether it’s any of these other disciplines, but in golf that’s not the case. You can have a top 10, which is considered a good result, or you can have a top 25, which is called a decent result, but at the Olympics a top 25 means nothing and a top 10 could be equally insignificant.”
Talking about his schedule, Lahiri said, “After John Deere and then Barbasol next week, it will be the Olympics. He added: “I will be in Japan for around seven and a half days – and back to the US.”
“By then I hope I have done enough to keep my card,” Lahiri added with a laugh as he lies 119th in the FedExCup rankings, needing to stay inside the Top-125 to retain his PGA Tour playing rights for 2022.
India Golf Weekly notes the Olympic team will be a Bangalore affair with all 3 Olympians – Lahiri, Mane and Aditi Ashok hailing from the city. It’s testament to the dedication of coaches and courses like Eagleton in the area who has nurtured these youngsters and coaches towards reaching excellence.