Terrific Treble

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Aditi Ashok clinches third title on the Ladies European Tour in Abu Dhabi

Aditi Ashok of India with her trophy.

One word you can associate with Aditi Ashok is ‘determined’. The 19-year-old golf prodigy had a stellar debut on the Ladies European Tour, where she won two titles and posted 7 top-10s.

After becoming the first women’s golfer to represent India at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aditi went on to script back-to-back victories at the US$400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open and the Euro 500,000 Qatar Ladies Open. She also became the first golfer from the country to clinch the National Open since its inception in 2007.

Aditi then went on to qualify for the most lucrative Ladies Professional Golf Association of America (LPGA). However, she could not replicate her form in her rookie season on the LPGA, clinching only one top-10 finish out of 20 starts.

But that did not deter Aditi from ‘keeping up the faith’ and following the strenuous golf routine. Support and words of encouragement from parents Ashok Gudlamani and Mash helped. But it was her determination that separated her from the other Indian women professionals.

In just her fifth start on the LET this year, Aditi kept attacking the flags and went on to complete a hattrick of  titles at the Euro 515,000 Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi. Her tournament tally read 18-under 270 (67-66-68-69), a stroke ahead of runner-up Georgia Hall of England.

Aditi Ashok of India is presented with her trophy.

Her consistency meant she was in the top-2 from the opening round at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Her terrific effort landed her the third international title and a winner’s cheque of Euro 70,787 (approx. Rs 54.5 lakh).

With no sponsors till date and only her parents to support her ambition, one can imagine the difficulties she must be facing while spending huge amounts on travel and accommodation to compete in the US. However, Aditi made it clear that she doesn’t intend to shift base despite getting full playing rights on the LPGA for 2018.

Aditi Ashok of India during the final round.

The Bengaluru lass also skipped the US$2.1 million Blue Bay LPGA at the Hainan Island, China, to defend her title at the DLF Golf & Country Club even though there was no cut applicable.

“Playing golf is what I love to do. Money (expenditure) is secondary, it always was even as an amateur. Living in India and playing the LPGA is not exactly cost effective, but that’s the way it is. I aspired to be on the LPGA and here I am. I think all of this is an investment in myself,” Aditi told reporters during the press conference for the US$400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open in Gurgaon.

“The first half of the year (on LPGA) was tough because I had conditional status and most of the time, I wasn’t really sure I would be playing that week but luckily, by summer, I had better status. I played in a lot of LPGA events and that was really important to me and I also got to play five Majors this year, so it was a great experience as a rookie. I’ve just had one Top 10 so I haven’t really played as well as I had hoped on the LPGA, but the LET win last week was really positive.”

Asked what was the one portion in her game where she needed to improve in order to give the LPGA players a tough fight, the 19-year-old signed off saying,  “A lot of girls hit longer than me so if I picked up a little more in my distance, I will be happy. And in the US, many have played in the same venue for so many years sometimes I think that becomes an advantage. Knowing the courses well will help me.”

(Read more in the December issue of Golf Digest India. Download here.)

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