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Golfer Aditi Ashok back to lead Indian challenge in Women's Indian Open

Gurugram, Oct 17 (IANS) Aditi Ashok, whose name brings about a sense of excitement among Indian golf fans, is back on ‘home’ turf in India for the Hero Women’s Indian Open after a gap that got extended due to the pandemic.

The 24-year-old Bengaluru golfer wrote a new chapter in Indian women’s golf by becoming the first woman from the country to win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) by bagging the Women’s Indian Open title in 2016.

She progressed quickly from there, adding two more LET wins in 2016 and 2017 and earning a card on the toughest Tour in the world, the LPGA in the United States.

Yet, it was the LET was where Aditi captured the global imagination for the first time. Little wonder then her record on the LET is incredible.

In 57 starts on the LET, Aditi has had three wins and 18 Top-10s. That is almost 38 percent, which means she finished in Top-10 at least once every three starts — a supreme effort by any standard.

Last year at the Tokyo Olympics, she had the whole country on the edge of their seat early in the morning as she came agonizingly close to getting onto the podium. Despite a masterclass in putting that had the golfing fraternity agog, she did not land a medal as the World No.1 Nelly Korda won the gold while local Japanese star Mone Inami edged out former World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand to the silver. Ko settled for bronze and Aditi was fourth and the rest of the who’s who of women’s golf was some distance behind.

She may not have won an Olympic medal, but Aditi single-handedly put the game of golf into the mind space of Indian sports fans which even had Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauding her achievement.

Aditi, who played the Hero Women’s Indian Open regularly since her debut in 2011, turned in superb performances between 2011 and 2015 in her five appearances as an amateur. She made the cut four times, finished in Top-10 once, twice in Top-15 and missed the cut only once.

In fact, Aditi had won a pro event on the domestic Hero Women’s Golf Tour, while still being an amateur. She carried on from there when she turned pro in 2016. The year 2016 was her rookie year and even though a few Indian girls had finished in Top-10 in the previous editions, nobody had actually lifted that incredible silverware.

Aditi set that record straight, by winning it at the DLF Golf and Country Club, which is where she will be playing again this week as the tournament gets underway on October 20.

There were understandable celebrations all around. They had not even abated for her and in the very next start at the Qatar Ladies Open, she again lifted the trophy. A third LET Trophy came her way in 2017 when she won the FBM Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.

In 2017, she returned for the HWIO, but was Tied for 13th and then she became a regular on the LPGA. Playing in the US, she was unable to make it to India in 2018 and 2019 and then Covid robbed the Indian sports fans of a chance of seeing her in action. This year as the National Open returns to action, so does Aditi Ashok who has always expressed great pride in wearing Indian colours, playing in India and interacting with youngsters in the country.

Aditi will in all probability have the largest gallery and she will be looking forward to giving them another enthralling experience.

–IANS

cs/bsk

CELEBRITY GALLERY

Karan Kundrra

Ananya Panday

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Sidharth Shukla

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