Hangzhou, Sep 26 (IANS) The seven-member Indian Golf team will be hoping to carry their superb recent form into the 19th Asian Games, when the action begins on Thursday.
The four-member men’s team will be Anirban Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma, Khalin Joshi and SSP Chawrasia, while the women’s team comprises Aditi Ashok, Pranavi Urs, Avani Prashanth
While Lahiri and Sharma were given automatic berths in the men’s section, Aditi was given the same honour among women. Joshi and Chawrasia among men and Pranavi and Avani in women came through a qualifiers conducted for all amateurs and pro by the Indian Golf Union
Lahiri, the only one in this group of seven to have won a medal at the Asian Games, did so way back in 2006, when he was still an amateur. “That was an amazing feeling,” he recalled.
Lahiri has a string of Top-3 performances on the LIV Tour and also the International Series on the Asian Tour, while Shubhankar Sharma notched a Top-10 finish at the 2023 (British) Open, which is the best ever at the event by an Indian.
"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 very, very important event for me personally. I am really looking forward to spending time with the whole team. I don't really know very well some of them," he said.
The senior most player in the golf contingent, who has played at two Olympic Games – Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021, 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. 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."
Aditi 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.
"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.
"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, China," Aditi said.
Pranavi has been playing on the Epson Tour, the second level Tour in the US and 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.
Brijinder Singh, President of the Indian Golf Union, said: "It is a very strong team in both men's and women's sections. We are confident of medals in both sections and in both individual and team competitions. The most heartening feature is that all seven players are in excellent form and we can look forward to some great golf from them."
SSP Chawrasia, who has six titles as a pro from Asian and European Tours, was Lahiri’s teammate at the Rio Olympics, but this will be his first Asian Games.
Shubhankar, 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 Games. His friend from his junior days, Khalin Joshi, with whom he has shared the room many times, will also be making his Asian Games debut.
On the women’s side, Aditi played at the 2014 Asian Games as an amateur and then at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, In Tokyo she finished fourth and had the whole nation glued to the competition on TV.
Her teammates, also from Bengaluru, Pranavi Urs and amateur Avani Prashanth, are making their Asian Games debut.
Men: Khalin Joshi, Shubhankar Sharma, SSP Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri
Women: Aditi Ashok, Pranavi Urs, Avani Prashanth
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