Sports

Extension of golf qualifying period gives Sharma, Kapur, Lahiri a chance to make a bid for Tokyo Olympics

V Krishnaswamy New Delhi | Updated on April 29, 2020 Published on April 29, 2020

Shubhankar Sharma

Rashid Khan and Udayan Mane may be the leaders in the race for the two spots India will likely get for the Tokyo Olympics, which will now be held in 2021, but with the International Golf Federation (IGF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) announcing an adjustment to the qualifying system many of those chasing the lead duo will get a chance to catch up.

The top Indian women who would have made the Tokyo Olympics, had they been held on time, were Aditi Ashok and Diksha Dagar.

Olympic Golf Rankings

As per the announcement by IGF, in light of the one-year delay, athletes now will accumulate Olympic Golf Rankings (OGR) points through a period ending in June, 2021. The original qualifying period began July 1, 2018 and, prior to the postponement, was to have ended this June, 2020.

The total Official World Golf Ranking points earned in the most recent 52-week period, ending with the Olympic Golf Ranking as of June 21, 2021 for men and June 28, 2021 for women. The field for both men and women will consist of 60 players.

With the extension of the qualifying period, at least half a dozen Indian men and possibly one woman can make a run for the Games.

When the IGF announced the decision to freeze rankings on March 15, after which no official OWGR-ranked event has been held worldwide on account of Covid-19 pandemic, Rashid was the top Indian at 185th and the second making the grade was Udayan Mane (223).

Those not far behind are are Shubhankar Sharma (283), Shiv Kapur (287), Ajeetesh Sandhu (354), S Chikkarangappa (383), Aman Raj (408), Gaganjeet Bhullar (418), Veer Ahlawat (448) and Anirban Lahiri (497) who would have a chance. Barring Ahlawat, all others played on Asian and European Tours, and Lahiri is the lone Indian on PGA. Arjun Atwal, a 2010 PGA Tour winner, gets a few starts.

Back in the race

A win on Asian Tour or European Tour or a few good finishes on PGA, in the case of Lahiri, would bring them back into the race for Tokyo. When the rankings were frozen, the last man getting in - Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines - at 252.

Amongst women, Aditi Ashok (148) and Diksha Dagar (317) had secured a spot each among Top-60. The next best Indian is Tvesa Malik (623). The last woman player getting in, as on March 15, was Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland, who was ranked 394th.

The top-15 players at the end of the qualifying period 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. The host country will be guaranteed a spot, as will each of the five continental regions.

Published on April 29, 2020

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