The splendid rise of Aditi Ashok
The latest Women's World Golf Rankings, officially known as the Rolex Rankings, released on 24th July 2017, saw young Indian golfer Aditi Ashok rise 7 spots to reach her highest ranking of 86.
This is part of Aditi's meteoric rise since the start of the Rio Olympics, slightly over a year ago. At that time, she was ranked 444th in the world. Her jump of 358 ranks since then is testament to the wonderful year she has had.
Aditi's first major golfing triumph came in 2015, when she became the youngest and first Indian golfer to win a Ladies European Tour Tour School, finishing first at the Lalla Aicha Tour School in Marrakech, Morocco. This win also allowed her to secure her Ladies European Tour Card for the 2016 season.
However, it was her performance at the 2016 Olympics that first caught the public imagination. The final result, with Aditi at 41st place out of 60 golfers does not capture the full impact of her performance. After the first two rounds, Aditi was in the top eight in a field that comprised of 9 of the top 10 female golfers. This raised hopes of a medal, and in a country where even men's golf struggles to get eyeballs, had many hooked on to the women's game in Rio.
After the Rio Olympics, Aditi continued her good run on the Ladies European Tour, finishing in the Top 10 in tournaments in Germany, Spain, France and China. On the back of these performances, Aditi was ranked 285 on the eve of the Hero India Open to be held in Gurgaon. It was here that she made history by becoming the first Indian to win a Ladies European Tour Title. With a total score of 3-under 213, Aditi edged out Brittanny Lincicome of USA and Belen Moze of Spain by a solitary point.
After that pathbreaking win, Aditi added another trophy to her collection merely two weeks later, when she won the Qatar Ladies Open.
The young Indian ace hit a total of 15-under par, winning with a comfortable 3 stroke cushion over Caroline Headwall and Lydia Hall.
With these two wins, Ashok had jumped up 153 places in the rankings in just 3 weeks and ended November 2016 placed at No. 132. Her excellent first season with the Tour was awarded with her being named "LET Rookie of the Year".
She finished second in the Tour's Order of Merit for 2016. At a Ladies' PGA qualifying tournament in December, Ashok also earned a partial LPGA card for 2017. At the end of 2016, Ashok stood at the cusp of the top 100 rankings, placed at No. 111.
Within one month, in the rankings released on 30th January 2017, Aditi broke into the top 100 in the world. In 2017, the teenager has been dividing her time between the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies PGA Tour.
Only two days ago, Aditi had her first breakthrough in the PGA tour when she achieved her first top 10 finish at the Marathon Classic held in Sylvania, Ohio.
Ashok is still in the initial stages of her professional career. However, if her rapid rise in the past year is anything to go by, it seems that she is set to win many more titles and reserve her spot among India's all time sporting greats.
After her first top 10 finish at the Ladies PGA Tour on Sunday, fans of the golfer will be hoping for her first Tour title soon, and we will not be surprised to see the young Indian in the world's top 50 at the end of the year.