Don’t feel I’ve really earned qualification: Anirban Lahiri

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Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri says he wasn’t expecting to qualify for the Olympics given his below par performance this year but now wants to make it count by returning with a medal from the Tokyo Games.

Lahiri on Tuesday made the cut for the Olympics at the 60th spot, the last quota available as per the International Golf Federation rankings.

“It was a big surprise, I wasn’t expecting it,” said Lahiri, who is preparing for this week’s PGA TOUR stop at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, Connecticut.

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“Even though I’ve earned it, I don’t feel like I’ve really earned it as I know how far below my potential I’ve played this year. It’s a gift and an opportunity, so why would I throw it away.” India was eligible for one spot and Lahiri qualified being the highest-placed golfer from the country at the 340th position.

“I know what it is to be an Olympian as I’ve done it before (in Rio) and I don’t want to be just an Olympian. I want to win a medal, I want to do something that makes a difference,” said the 33-year-old.

“I know winning a PGA TOUR event will do that but winning a medal would even do more. I do have a certain responsibility towards the game and my country.”

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The former Asian No. 1 finished a lowly 57th in Rio while playing with an injury. But recently, there have been signs of some good form returning following a recent T25 finish at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.

That has made him optimistic of his chances at the Olympics to be held at the Kasumigaseki Country Club from July 29 to August 1.

“When I first found out, I called my wife and she asked what do I want to do now. I told her ‘how can I not go? How can I not represent my country in the biggest sporting event in the world?’

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“This is why I play the game… and to have the opportunity to represent your country, and not just the representation as I feel like I’m playing really well.

“I feel I’m close to playing my best golf right now and for a lot of reasons, it makes sense for me. It means everything for me to go,” said Lahiri, whose last win came at home at the Hero Indian Open in 2015.

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