Strong Indian Golf Team Eyes Asian Games 2023 Medals
The seven-member Indian golf team, comprising the likes of Anirban Lahiri and Aditi Ashok, will be hoping to carry forward its recent superb form when the event commences at the Asian Games on Thursday.
The seven-member Indian golf team, comprising the likes of Anirban Lahiri and Aditi Ashok, will be hoping to carry forward its recent superb form when the event commences at the Asian Games on Thursday. Lahiri will be leading an experienced set of Indian golfers including Shubhankar Sharma, Khalin Joshi and SSP Chawrasia, while the women's team has the likes of Olympian Aditi, Pranavi Urs and Avani Prashanth. While Lahiri and Sharma have been given automatic berths in the men's section, Aditi has been given the same honour among women.
Joshi and Chawrasia among men and Pranavi and Avani in women came through the qualifiers conducted for amateurs and pros by the Indian Golf Union (IGU).
Lahiri, the only one in this group to have won a medal at the Asian Games, did so way back in 2006 when he clinched a team silver as an amateur.
"That was an amazing feeling," he recalled.
He said, "For me, it is very exciting; obviously to have the opportunity to play again in the Asian Games. It's a great honour to represent the country. It is obviously something I cherish and look forward to.
"This doesn't come around very often. So it's always a very, very important event for me personally. I am looking forward to spending time with the team. I don't really know some of them very well.
"As for my colleagues in the men's team, SSP (Chawrasia) is a very dear friend. We've done Olympics (2016) together. Shubhankar and I are very, very close and we have played a lot together. I think it will be a new experience for Khalin (Joshi).
"So, yes, all of us are looking forward to it and nothing will be better for golf in India than if we can bring back some medals." The senior-most player in the golf contingent, who has played two Olympic Games -- 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo --, added, "All of us, both the girls and the boys, are a strong team. We have some people who are in good form. And I think that's important heading into events like this.
Lahiri has a string of top-3 performances on the LIV Tour and also the International Series on the Asian Tour, while Sharma notched a top-10 finish at the 2023 British Open, which is the best ever at the event by an Indian.
"Yeah, I think we can bring back a few medals. I say a few because I think we have a very good chance in all four events, the individuals and team, in both men and women. That's what we will be looking at," said Lahiri.
Chawrasia, who has six titles as a pro from the Asian and European Tours, was Lahiri's teammate at the Rio Olympics, but this will be his first Asian Games.
Sharma, who missed out on making the team to the 2010 Asian Games, turned professional a couple of years later. He will be representing India for the first time in a multi-discipline event.
His friend from his junior days, Khalin Joshi, will also be making his Asian Games debut.
Aditi Ashok has been in great form on the Ladies European Tour, where she won the Kenya Ladies Open and is right now fourth on the Order of Merit. She has also been very consistent on the world's strongest Tour, the Ladies PGA (LPGA) Tour.
Aditi said, "I've had a good season so far and am excited to play the Asian Games. It's a nice feeling to be home during the mid-season for a change and get ready for the Games. I've been training hard and working on all aspects of my game.
Aditi played at the 2014 Asian Games as an amateur and then the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. In 2020 Tokyo, she finished fourth and had the whole nation glued to the competition on TV.
"I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to play in Incheon 2014 as an amateur and this time as a professional. Hopefully, I can put together four good rounds in Hangzhou," she added.
Pranavi has been playing on the Epson Tour, the second-level Tour in the US, while Avani Prashanth, the only amateur in the squad, won the prestigious Queen Sirikit Cup in Manila this year. She also won a pro event in Europe, while still being an amateur.
The competition will be played over four rounds.
Indian team -- Men: Khalin Joshi, Shubhankar Sharma, SSP Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri; Women: Aditi Ashok, Pranavi Urs, Avani Prashanth.
India's golf medallists at past Asian Games: 1982 Delhi: Lakshman Singh (Gold Individual); Team Gold (Lakshman Singh, Rajiv Mohta, Rishi Narain, and Amit Luthra); 2002 Busan: Shiv Kapur (Gold Individual); 2006 Doha: Silver Team (Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Joseph Chakola and Chiragh Kumar); 2010 Guangzhou: Silver Team (Rashid Khan, Rahul Bajaj, Abhijeet Singh Chaddha and Abhinav Lohan).
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