Anirban Lahiri targeting Rio Games with improved golf ranking

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 17, 2014, 18:51 PM IST

Mumbai: Anirban Lahiri might be India`s number one golfer at present, but the World No. 106 feels he needs to work harder to not just maintain his position but improve it further in the next 24 months in order qualify for 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.

The top two world ranked golfers from India will qualify for the Olympics and Lahiri is highest ranked at the moment, followed by Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur at 143rd and 144th positions, respectively, in the World Golf rankings list.

"The top two world ranked golfers from India would qualify for the Olympic Games. As of now I am the highest ranked. Then there is Gaganjeet (Bhullar) and Shiv (Kapur)," Lahiri told PTI at a press conference on Louise Philip Cup tournament here.

"I don`t know exactly when the cut-off date is, but as the Olympics are in 2016, I don`t expect it to be before end of 2015, which basically means I have got 24 months not only to maintain my level but to improve and get into the Olympics.

"If I go there only with the goal of being where I am then I will only move backwards. I want to better my golf, better my ranking. It will improve my chances of playing and that`s what I will try to do," said the 26-year-old golfer, who is number 3 on the Asian Order of Merit.

Terming 2013 as his best year on the golf pro circuit, Lahiri said he was eager to break into the top 50 and gain a direct entry into the US PGA Tour though he is also looking at the European Tour and Japan Tour.

"Without doubt 2013 has been my best year as a pro. I think I moved up about 120 spots in world rankings. I won internationally (two titles). It`s definitely been my most consistent year," said the Bangalore-based player.

"I really want to get into the top 10 if possible. That`s my dream, of playing in the majors, in America where the best players play. But as a (realistic) target I want to get into the top 50 or 60 next year," Lahiri, who is currently ranked 106 after climbing to his career-best of 101 last month, said.

"That`s a great place (Japan) to play. You have to understand Japan is a very unique country...Food, travel, language are a big barrier. Having said that, it`s still a great opportunity to play there and, if I cannot get into Europe, I will try that. Europe is my priority," said the 2006 Asian Games silver medallist who is in his seventh year as a professional.