It was long overdue. Ever since she burst on to the scene with her remarkable performance at the Rio Olympics, Aditi Ashok had been knocking on the door. Finally, after a string of commendable performances that included a couple of top-10 finishes, Aditi finally won her maiden tite, clinching the Indian Open in Gurgaon on Sunday.
In the process, the teen sensation scripted history as she is the first Indian woman to win a Ladies European Tour title. The 18-year-old Olympian carded an even par 72 on the final day at the DLF Golf and Country Club. On a day that saw leads shift hands on multiple occasions, Aditi held her nerve to get the better of American Brittany Lincicome and Spain’s Belen Mozo.
Brittany and Belen finished tied second with identical totals of two-under 214 after 54 holes, one adrift of the winner. Aditi finished with a total score three-under 213 to win a prize purse of USD 60,000, propelling her to the top spot in the Rookie of the Year rankings.
“I have had some good finishes in the Indian Open but to get the job done finally feels really good and especially finishing victorious in front of my home crowd is a really good feeling,” she said.
Aditi turned pro last year. It was tough to breakthrough initially, but she has made most of the chances she’s had since the Olympics, recording four consecutive top-10 finishes before a T-46 finish in the event preceding this win. “It feels good to win the championship, I was playing good all year, I had four top 10 finishes.
I had a good front nine but made a few mistakes on the back nine, but overall it was a good week,” Aditi said.
Aditi had a two shot lead coming into the final round. She played an even-par front-nine and looked well on course to claim her maiden title on the Ladies European Tour. However, Belen Mozo continued to apply pressure and carded two birdies while dropping a single shot on her front nine.
Brittany, who has two major titles to her credit, too had a good day and finished with a total of two-under 214 to give herself a realistic chance of winning the title.
With just two holes to play, both Aditi and Belen bogeyed the 17th hole to tie with Brittany for the top spot. On the decisive 18th hole, Aditi hit an incredible approach shot which landed and rolled back to stop one and a half feet from the pin.
Belen, on the other hand had to settle for a par. Aditi took a moment to gather herself and calmly holed the ball to get a rousing reception from the large crowd present there to cheer her. “As far as the Rookie of the Year goes, I still have a couple of weeks of golf tournaments coming up, I shall be playing in Qatar and Dubai. So I am hoping to put up a good show there to have the Rookie of the Year award too under my belt,” she said.
Thai player Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul took the fourth spot with a total score of 215, followed by English golfer Florentyna Parker at 216 to complete the top five positions.
Among other notable golfers, Emily Pedersen and Kiran Matharu finished tied 9th while Christine Wolf, who had remained in contention for the last two days, had to settle for the tied 11th position. Local professional Vani Kapoor had an off day in the park and carded 6 over 78 to settle for tied 28th position. Diksha Dagar finished as the best amateur in the tournament with a total score of 229.
Aditi Ashok became the first Indian to win the Women’s Indian Open. It is also her maiden title on the Ladies European Tour.
She was also the first Indian woman golfer to represent the country at the Olympics when the sport returned to the Games at Rio earlier this year.
Aditi became the youngest and first Indian to win the Lalla Aicha Tour School and therefore secure her Ladies European Tour card for the 2016 season.This also made her the youngest winner of a Q School for an international tour.
(With inputs from PTI)