2016 Rio: Indian Golf Fans Dreaming of Olympic Gold

Feb 26, 2016; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; Anirban Lahiri tees off on the third hole during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2016; Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA; Anirban Lahiri tees off on the third hole during the second round of the Honda Classic at PGA National. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports /

SSP Chawrasia following in Anirban Lahiri’s footsteps is a major plus for Indian golf ahead of 2016 Rio.

As the 2016 Rio games approach Indian golf is looking poised for a run at Olympic Gold. SSP Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri, and Aditi Ashok are ready to carry the country’s standard into the 2016 Rio grand stadium and onto the 1st tee at the Olympic golf course.

SSP Chawrasia is no fresh faced rookie but the month of March could prove to be a huge turning point in his career. The 37-year-old was named the European Tour player of the month after having finally picked up the trophy at the Hero Indian Open.

Chawrasia has finished as runner-up in his national open an agonising four times but he finally did enough, eventually prevailing by three shots over Jeunghun Wang and fellow countryman, Anirban Lahiri. Chawrasia, from Kolkata, was paired alongside Lahiri in the final round of the Indian Open and together they put on a great show.

The galleries were delighted that an Indian golfer was going to win at Delhi Golf Club once again but it was the sportsmanship of Lahiri that really stood out. The pair traded blows throughout Sunday and a playoff beckoned when Chawrasia found himself in trouble on the last. However, he hit a wonderful approach from the rough which was greeted by rapturous applause from all those watching – including the defending champion.

There is clearly a strong rapport between the two stars of Indian golf which should stand them in good stead for the upcoming Olympic Games. The pair are all but assured of their places in the 2016 Rio games and with a similar style of play they can work together to plot a route towards the medal positions.

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In many ways, Delhi Golf Club is the perfect place to show off Lahiri and Chawrasia’s strength. It demands incredible accuracy off the tee, strong approach play and nothing short of excellence when pitching and chipping. If they can apply those skills to the Olympic Course they could just spring a surprise.

Certainly, Lahiri has gathered enough experience in the past year to ensure he won’t be overcome with nerves. The Indian number one has now played at all four major championships and although he is nearly 10 years younger than Chawrasia, he will be able to lend the benefit of his experience to his compatriot.

While many golf fans outside of Asia may not have heard of Chawrasia, Lahiri is becoming increasingly well known. The 28-year-old has played 23 PGA TOUR events in the past two seasons alone with only a handful of missed cuts. Lahiri is not the first Indian to play with distinction on the PGA TOUR but his relationship with Chawrasia means the two will surely encourage each other on to greater things.

If and when Lahiri and Chawrasia make it to the 2016 Rio games they will almost certainly be joined by Aditi Ashok. At 18 years of age the Indian women’s number one is already making waves in the professional game. Ashok became the youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour Lalla Aicha Tour School event in Morocco when she was just 17 and it will take only a few more strong performances to book her place in Rio.

It is often said that young sportspeople can be fearless but if she needs any support from golfers who have battled their way to international recognition Ashok has two excellent mentors on her side going into the 2016 Rio Olympic games.

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They may not be favourites for the 2016 Rio games but Indian golf fans will be happy that they have three excellent players ready to fly their flag at the Olympics.