August 6, 2021 5:44:55 pm
COVID-19 took a bit of strength out of her, Aditi Ashok revealed on Friday as she stood tantalisingly close to India’s maiden Olympic medal in golf while trying to keep the pressure of expectations at bay before the final round.
The Bengaluru woman shot five birdies against two bogeys and moved to 12-under, three strokes adrift of leader Nelly Korda of USA who carded a two-under 69 in the penultimate round.
Aditi revealed that she had COVID-19 when she went back home for a while in May-June.
“Actually I went back for a couple reasons. One was to get a couple visas done and my passport was stuck in the consulate. So that’s why I missed Lake Merced (LPGA Mediheal Championship). I wanted to come back out for Pure Silk and I tested positive, so I was stuck for a couple weeks. And then I tested negative and it was all good.
“I do think it took a little bit of strength out of me. I was never this short. I was always short, but not like 50 (yards) behind Nelly,” the 23-year-old said after the day’s play.
“I didn’t really have my best, especially on the long holes with the long approaches, I wasn’t as consistent.
“My putting wasn’t as good today as the first two days, so those couple of par putts, like the one on 12 and the one on 18 helped.”
Following the return of golf into the Olympic programme in 2016, no Indian golfer, both men or women, have won a medal and Aditi knows fully well what a podium finish would mean for the game in her native country.
When asked about the pressure of expectations from a large audience in India, she said, “For sure (she feels the pressure) but I’m not thinking about it that much.
.@aditigolf betters her performance from the first two rounds and goes one up to rank second in women’s individual stroke play as compared to a tied-second position from yesterday!
— #Tokyo2020 for India (@Tokyo2020hi) August 6, 2021
“I think no matter how I do this week people have heard about golf, and they continue to tune in if they have extended the golf coverage in India, because I’m in the top three or whatever.
“I think that’s good itself. People seeing golf instead of the other sports, it’s always good to get more people aware of the game.”
On her mother, who is caddying for her, being a lucky charm, she said, “She’s doing great. It’s funny, this is the best I’ve played all year, so she is kind of (a lucky charm).”
On whether that puts her dad, Ashok’s usual caddie, out of a job, and she had this to say, “No, my dad’s good, he’s enjoying watching me on TV and he enjoys listening to “Bones” (Jim MacKAY, USA) commentate on my game. It’s funny because he never gets to see me play on TV, he’s always caddying. So that’s been cool.”
Asked about the impact of COVID on her driving distance, Aditi said, “(I am) at least 15 (yards behind) with the driver. With the irons 5 behind. But with the driver it’s about 15 carry, at least 15 carry.”
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