Abu Dhabi win was special: Aditi Ashok
A focused mind and strong mental fortitude is what defines Aditi Ashok. These characteristics differentiate her from youngsters of her age, and more so on a golf course. This was evident yet again in Abu Dhabi, where she emerged victorious at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, her third Ladies European Tour title in less than 12 months after she became the first Indian golfer to win a LET crown at the 2016 National Open.
After a phenomenal first year as a professional, which also saw her winning the Qatar Ladies Open and the LET Rookie of the Year, this season was relatively mediocre until her stupendous show in Abu Dhabi reinstated her belief. The 19-year-old called the Abu Dhabi victory “special” as she waited for it for a long time post her last win in December.
“Winning in Abu Dhabi was special because I have had a long season and I haven't had as many good finishes as I had hoped. Also, it gives me confidence heading into the Indian open. I am just happy with the way I played the whole week there,” Aditi told this correspondent, with a sigh of relief to record her first title win in 2017.
Aditi had to survive a late scare when she double bogeyed the par-3 17th, but thanks to her headstrong approach she parred the 18th and final hole for a one-shot win over Georgia Hall (66). The Indian youngster finished the tournament on 18-under.
Since her last Hero Women’s Indian Open win, life has changed a lot for Aditi with travelling and playing new courses in the US taking the front seat in her career. But she is yet to replicate the performance of her rookie LET season on the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
In her first year in the US, owing to her conditional card, she made 13 cuts out of 20 tournaments and the tied eighth finish at the Marathon Classic in July has been her best in the season.
“It was my rookie season on the LPGA and playing with the best in the world has enriched my experience and added confidence. I wish I could have done better but I am looking forward to next year,” she said of her LPGA season, insisting that “it was a good year.”
This week, the Bengaluru golfer will enter the Hero Women’s Indian Open as the favourite. She was also happy to return to a course where she tasted her first LET success and hoped for another great week at the new Gary Player course. “I am excited to defend my title this week and I would like to treat it like any other tournament week and do my preparations the way I would prepare for any other week.
“Indian Open always has a strong field so it should be fun,” added Aditi, who will lead the home challenge that has the likes of Sharmila Nicollet, Vani Kapur, Neha Tripathi and Amandeep Johl among others. Among the foreign names, 2015 champion and LET Rookie of the Year Emily Kristine Pedersen, 2016 Order of Merit winner Beth Allen and last year's runner-up Belen Mozo will be the stars to watch out for.
With a rich experience of playing with the best, Aditi said her game has progressed besides her confidence, and the recent success has only added to her assets. “My game is progressing in the right direction and is obviously in the right place having just won. I work to improve all aspects of my game so it feels good to see improvements on a consistent basis,” she said.
Her Abu Dhabi title win was already a warning to the top names at the DLF Golf and Country Club this week. And it remains to be seen how Aditi signs off the week. Let the action begin!