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Aditi Ashok is India's young hope in golf in the Olympics

ANALYST
Editor's Pick
3.41K   //    13 Aug 2016, 23:35 IST
Aditi Ashok qualified for the Women’s British Open with a stunning nine under 66!

All of 18 years old and already an Olympian! That’s the kind of dream story that Aditi Ashok will be scripting when the women’s golf event at the Rio Olympics begins this coming Wednesday. Having only turned pro earlier this year, this teen golf sensation from India has already left a giant impression on the world of golf.

Aditi’s already long list of achievements includes being the youngest winner of Tour School at the age of 17, winning the National Junior Championships and National Amateur Championships three and two times respectively and, becoming only the second Indian ever to play the Women’s British Open after Simi Mehra which took place late July this year.

The last came on the back of a stunning nine under card returned by Aditi at the 18-hole Ricoh Women’s British Open Final Qualifying event at John O’Gaunt. A look into Aditi’s card reveals just how impressive her strokeplay was; after returning a bogey on the first hole she went on to record eight birdies and an eagle in the next 14 holes.

Rare as though such rounds come, a similar sort of performance and this young Indian star of the future can very well assure herself of a place on the podium at Rio, no matter if she’s playing some of the best in the business.

Being the only Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics; Aditi qualified by virtue of her IGF World Ranking of 57, the top 60 made the cut and her more illustrious compatriots, Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia falling by the wayside so far in the men’s event, the pressure will most definitely be on the youngster. The weight of a billion and a half dreams on her shoulders immortal status beckoning if manages to medal! If this is not everything to play for, what is?

What has worked for Aditi so far is her consistency. Of the 12 professional events she has competed in so far, Aditi has managed to make the cut in 11 while going on to win two. In golfing terms, this is the equivalent of registering fifties in every test inning completed by a cricketer of the experience of say, Wriddhiman Saha with a couple of hundreds thrown in for good measure!

Impressive showings in the events building to the Olympics such as that in the British Open qualifying event have ensured that Aditi comes into the event in red hot form, something that the Indian will be looking to carry throughout the four days of competition.

Aditi will have her task cut out at Rio

Unlike the men’s, the women’s golf event hasn’t been scarred by pull outs by top golfers. Instead, we will get to see a legend in the women’s game, Lydia Ko of New Zealand in action, along with other powerhouses Lexi Thmopson of USA and British Women’s Open champion from 2016, 20-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand.

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While this certainly makes the competition spicier, what it also means is that Aditi’s chances of bringing home a medal are sleek at best and her achievement, if she manages to do so, all the more commendable.

The most exciting thing about Golf is its uncertainty; something that is sure to work in the Indian girl’s favour. It is always difficult to predict a winner at any sport but none more so than golf. Here it’s not always about world rankings and having a single good day but having four at a stretch.

It is not always about who has the strongest game but who strikes the ball cleanest. A classic case of uncertainty in Golf is the currently ongoing men’s event at the Olympics. While at the time of writing, established stars and pre-tournament favourites Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson have faltered in a major way, little known Australian Marcus Fraser has made the best of the greens so far with rounds of 63 and 69.

As important as Golf’s return to the Olympics after an unbelievable gap of 112 years is important to the game, the women’s event holds special value what with bringing the sport to a wider and more global audience. The presence of star golfers will go a long way in achieving that but nothing will be as beautiful and significant for the game as a victory or a medal for an underdog or a dark horse.

In the case of 18-year-old Indian hopeful, Aditi Ashok, with the way things are progressing for the Indian contingent so far, a medal at the games will be nothing short of a one-way ride to superstardom.

So when this brave young Indian who has already taken some massive strides, golfwise, tees off on Wednesday, the 17th, she will be sure to have on her 20,000 league boots as she bids for an unprecedented place on the top step of the podium!

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