As we announced in January, the 2022 Asian Games have added a new element to the golf event by following the Olympics and now allowing professionals to compete. But unlike the Olympics, where selection is based solely on world professional golf rankings, the Asian Games have no established selection criteria. Instead, countries are free to select players based on their own criteria.
A team can consist of all pros, all amateurs, or a combination of both. For example, the Korean Golf Association (KGA) has announced that it will send two pros and two amateurs for the men’s competition, while the women’s team will consist of one pro and two amateurs.
The big question then is what should India do? The obvious answer is that India should send the teams that have the best chance of winning a medal. For men, that would mean selecting the best pros, who are unquestionably better than the top male amateurs in the country.
If the selection were to be made based on the current official world rankings, the Indian squad would consist of the following four players:
- Shubhankar Sharma (161st),
- Anirban Lahiri (311th).
- Veer Ahlawat (421st);
- Chikkarangappa S (431st)
While the rankings will change by the selection deadline, Sharma and Lahiri are virtually certain to be the top two and although both players have busy schedules in the US and Europe, Lahiri should be available as Asian Games golf event. is scheduled for September 15-18, just after the current PGA Tour season ends in August.
The European Tour where Sharma is playing has the Italian Open that week and the top-tier BMW Championship in London the week before so he will face a challenge. That said, representing India will likely be a priority for Sharma, who is certain to qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship anyway as his runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi has already earned him enough Race to Dubai points. .
A look at India’s history in the Asian Games. Indian amateur golfers have a proud history at the Asian Games. The 4-member team, led by Lakshman Singh, won gold in 1982 in New Delhi. Singh also won individual gold that year, while Rajeev Mohta won silver. Shiv Kapur replicated Singh’s feat in 2002 in Busan by winning individual gold while the team won silver in 2006 in Doha and again in 2010 in Guangzhou.
So, it could be said that Indian amateurs have made the country proud and also deserve their chance to represent India on the biggest team golf stage on the continent. Given that the change in entry rules came so late, fans are eager to play in Hangzhou when the event may not even be on the radar of India’s top pros.
India could choose to compromise like South Korea and choose two pros and two amateurs for the men (Korea has announced that it will hold a selection trial in March to choose the two amateurs while the pros will be determined by the world ranking).
In the final analysis though, IGW’s opinion is that in an event the size of the Asian Games, you are playing to win the game, not to give players exposure. The Asian Games are too big an event to compromise and India must send the best team possible. For men, that means the pros without a doubt.
Things are a little more complicated on the women’s side. LPGA regular and Tokyo Olympic sensation Aditi Ashok definitely deserves a spot on the team. Tvesa Malik, who enjoyed considerable success in 2021 playing the Ladies European Tour, could also have a strong case for selection if she continues her good form. Beyond the two, it’s not clear that the pros are much better than the top amateurs.
Amateur players regularly win events on the Hero Domestic Pro Tour. Two weeks 17-year-old amateur Sneha Singh from Hyderabad broke a 7-tour record under 29 on its final nine holes to win the second leg of the season. Sing too finished second in the third run, and she’s not even the top-ranked amateur in India. That would be Avani Prashanth, 15-year-old Indian champion, from Bangalore.
In other words, the IGU has its hands full to develop a selection process for the women. So far, the IGU has made no announcement regarding its selection criteria for the Games. Hopefully the process will be made public as soon as possible, so players know what to expect and can plan their schedules accordingly. This is another important step in ensuring the best team possible ends up at the Games.
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Photo – Olympics.com