Lahiri looks forward to having fellow professional Chikkarangappa as caddie in Olympics

·5-min read

New Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) Aiming to do what he couldn't in his first Olympics five years ago, top Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri will have fellow professional S Chikkarangappa as his caddie in the upcoming Tokyo Games, something he is excitedly looking forward to.

Lahiri, who is preparing to compete in his second Olympics, will also have the company of Udayan Mane as the country's other representative in the men's golf competition at the Games.

'... Having my dear friend, my little brother Chikkarangappa caddying for me is 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,' Lahiri said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Hailing from a village near Eagleton, one of India's most famous golf courses on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway, Chikkarangappa was a caddie before he became a professional golfer.

'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,' said Lahiri.

The 34-year-old Lahiri, who had contracted the COVID-19 virus in April, missed a few tournaments on the PGA Tour because of that. But, fortunately, he has recovered well after the 'scary' experience.

'My game is feeling quite good. This is probably the best I've felt since my bout with COVID. I think I had a lot of positives in the one week, and then last week also I played some good golf. I played some average golf, but there was a lot of positives.

'This week I've tried to work on some of those areas that needed a little bit of polishing, and I'm excited. I like the golf course. Weather is going to be nice and warm, which is something that I usually like,' he said.

'Looking forward to a good week and a good stretch,' he said ahead of John Deere Classic tournament.

Lahiri feels his game is coming together even as he prepares for his Olympic appearance later this month. As he gets ready for the John Deere Classic this week, Lahiri has twin goals in his sights -- he wants a medal at the Olympics and a full card for the PGA Tour for 2022.

'I think the biggest difference about the Olympic is you don't get anything for coming fourth. Anything other than a podium finish is not significant at the Olympics, though a tied fourth at a PGA Tour event goes a long way in ensuring a lot of things on the PGA Tour,' said Lahiri, who is also working for a charity, Askhaya Patra.

On the Olympics, he added, 'It's more of all or nothing because that's really what you are there for.

'Unlike in many other sports (outside of Olympics), in golf 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.' Though his PGA Tour card was not locked yet, Lahiri said he could not even think of bypassing a chance to play for India at the Olympics.

'I know what an Olympic medal can do for Indian golf. I would not be able to forgive myself if I passed up a chance to try and get one (medal).' This week Lahiri will not have to look far for inspiration as he is paired with Cam Davis, winner of Rocket Mortgage last week, and Sungjae Im, who in 2020 finished runner-up at Masters and has one win on the Tour, too.

Sharing his COVID story and how he got it, Lahiri said, 'It just so happened when my coach (Vijay DIvecha) came in from India. He tried to avoid exposing himself at the airport and he went to a friend's house in Delhi when he was transiting (in early April).

'When he landed here and started work, the day after he landed, the friend he stayed with called us and said that he was not feeling well,' he said.

'Vijay unfortunately contracted the virus even though he was fully vaccinated, I kind of got it from him and so did my family, my wife. I think my daughter had it, too, though we didn't test her because she's only two.' 'I had a pretty serious bout with it. I had prolonged fever,' he added.

He was even suspected of having COVID pneumonia. The chest X-rays were not very positive and he was put on strong and slightly different medication. When he had to go back to the hospital for a checkup, the fever was up to 104 on the ninth day and oxygenation had come down.

However, subsequent tests and chest X-rays ruled out COVID pneumonia, which was a relief for Lahiri, as it could have impacted him seriously.

It took him two months to get to back to his feet. His wife, Ipsa, despite having COVID, drove him to a hospital and took care of the family.

As for his schedule, Lahiri will play this week at John Deere and then Barbasol next week. Then it will be the Olympics.

'I will be in Japan for around seven and a half day -- and back to US.' PTI Cor AH SSC AH SSC SSC

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