Kolkata: Indian golfer SSP Chawrasia is confident that he will be able to do well for his country at the upcoming Rio Olympics, next month.
"I feel it's an opportunity for me to give something back to the country. Not everyone gets a chance, I feel very lucky," Chawrasia opens up in an interview to PTI.
The elite sport is returning to the Summer Games for the first time since St Louis 1904, and the event will see 60 players in men's and women's section each compete at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio's Barra da Tijuca zone.
"Unlike any other events, it happens once every four years. That it returns to Olympics after 112 years makes it all the more special."
Having clinched the Indian Open in March, his third European Tour Title, Chawrasia was "80 per cent sure" of making the cut for the Olympics.
His assumption turned a reality on July 11 when the International Golf Federation's put out its top-60 list where he was ranked 45 to join number 20 Anirban Lahri whom he had beaten to win the Indian Open.
The Rio-bound golf team also has 18-year Bengaluru girl Aditi Ashok, who in her rookie season as pro will compete in the women's event during their competition from August 11-14.
It's a tough field with the USA represented by a strong four-member team who are in the top eight in the IGF Olympics rankings.
Ranked number one Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler (number 3), Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar (no seven and eight) have a 23 PGA Tour victories and two Majors among them.
"Obviously, the field will be top class (notwithstanding the pullouts). But we know our strengths and Lahiri has been doing quite well.
"I'm concentrating on my basics. Hopefully, we will make a mark," Chawrasia says as he follows a two-session regimen at his very own Royal Calcutta Golf Course.
Focussed on his Olympics preparation, Chawrasia will head to Pattaya in Thailand after three days to compete in the King's Cup from July 28-31.
"I want to be in the mix and don't want to relax. The Asian Tour event will give me some good practice before I head to Rio on August 4," Chawrasia, who won the 2008 Indian Masters and the Panasonic Open India on the Asian Tour two years ago at the Delhi Golf Club, said.
"Hopefully, I will be in time for the opening ceremony march. I'm yet to get my tickets," Chawrasia said, visibly excited to be part of the opening extravaganza.
The Olympic Golf Course is unfamiliar to both Chawrasia and Lahiri but the 38-year-old Kolkata golfer said they would reach there four-five days in advance.
"Three to four days of practice is enough to get a knack of the course. Conditions would not be much harsh as well," Chawrasia says, recalling the cruel windy conditions in the Scottish Open earlier this month where he failed to make the cut.
Chawrasia scored a five-over 149 in the European Tour event in Inverness, UK to finish 101, something he would like to forget fast.
"The wind was gushing at 50km per hour. I really struggled. I want to get it over fast."
It's not the time to iron out the flaws but Chawrasia is in regular touch with his Delhi based trainer friend Sandip Verma and Vijay Divecha, Lahiri's coach in Bengaluru.
"I send videos and get the feedbacks from Sandip. I'm also in touch with Divecha. I was thinking of meeting him but we did not get time."
Ask him about the pullouts by the leading golfers for the Zika virus threat, and Chawrasia says, "I've heard it but I'm just focused on my preparation. My priorities are clear."
Updated Date: Jul 19, 2016 20:31:55 IST