India’s Anirban Lahiri clearly loved what he saw during his first outing at the East course of Kasumigaseki Country Club, where he will represent India in the men’s golf competition of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
The 34-year-old Lahiri is one of two Indians who have qualified for the Games, the other being Pune’s 30-year-old Udayan Mane. Coincidentally, both players are coached by Vijay Divecha.
The men’s tournament starts Thursday, July 28, while the women’s event begins a week later at the same venue. Bengaluru-based 23-year-old Aditi Ashok is the only Indian to qualify for that.
Japan becomes very hot and humid during July and August, and Lahiri is hoping that would slightly tilt the equation in favour of Asian teams, which are used to such conditions.
Talking exclusively to IANS, Lahiri said: “The golf course is immaculate, absolutely pristine.
“It is very unusual for us to be in Japan in such warm weather. I think from all the numerous occasions on which I’ve come and played here, that’s the biggest difference. It’s just very hot, and it’s quite humid. Feels like a nice, balmy summer day and this could be anywhere in India. Hopefully, this gives us some advantage.”
Lahiri and Mane arrived on Saturday and were one of the earlier players to reach the venue. The Indian duo played the front nine on Sunday and spent a lot of time at the range.
The world No 275 Indian, coming off a tied third place finish on the PGA Tour a week ago, felt the scoring would be low.
“I think the golf course is actually quite a nice design… lots of holes where you could be hitting less than driver off the tee just to position yourself. I’ve only played the front nine and hit a number of wedges for my second,” said Lahiri, who has his friend, S. Chikkarangappa, a multiple title winner on the PGTI Tour, as his caddy this week.
“Couple of par-3s are really long and so are the par-5s. However, I think if you can place yourself in the fairway, you could take advantage of the par-5s. In terms of the set-up, I think it is quite good and it is set up for a lot of birdies. Barring unusual weather, it should be a very low scoring week.”
Lahiri said the atmosphere at the Games Village, as he expected, was very different from the one at Rio in 2016, where golf made a comeback to the Olympics after more than 100 years.
“It was nice at the Village, but I think it’s a lot more sombre than it was in Rio. But even then, I think it’s a lot of fun,” said Lahiri.
“Also for me, to have Chikka and Mane here is really good. We are just chilling out and having a nice time. Just walking around, and getting a feel. The Village is a unique experience and has such a different vibe, different atmosphere. We’re loving it.”
The men’s golf competition lost the world No 1, Spain’s Jon Rahm, after the reigning US Open champion tested positive for Covid-19 for the second time in two months. In June, Rahm had to withdraw from the final round of the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour while leading the event by six shots. Also missing for the same reason is American world No 6 Bryson DeChambeau.