Golf is a game of fine margins. Aditi Ashok, who caught the golfing world’s attention with some fantastic putting over the last four days of competition at Olympics 2021, fell short of a historic medal. She finished fourth with a score of 15-under-par 269.
The Indian was in the running for a podium place throughout the competition. She ended round three in sole second place.
However, towards the business end the fight for a medal intensified. After the 15th hole on Saturday, USA's Nelly Korda, New Zealand's Lydia Ko and Japan's Inami Mone along with Aditi were all in contention to secure a medal.
With tricky sand bunkers and water barriers to navigate, Aditi Ashok fell agonizingly short. Korda sealed the gold medal with a score of 17-under 267. Mone and Ko ended the round level at 16-under 268 and had to be involved in a playoff to finalize the silver and bronze medals.
At the end of the competition, Aditi Ashok opened up about her disappointment:
“I didn’t think about it [winning a medal] much but obviously I tried to give my best. In a normal competition, it doesn’t matter if you finish 2nd or 4th. But in this competition, you have 3 prizes to win. I didn’t leave anything out there and I think I gave my 100%, but coming 4th at an Olympics where the top 3 get a medal kind of sucks.”
Aditi was in the medal place till the 14th hole. However, she could only secure a par on the 15th hole while all the other medal challengers managed a birdie. Speaking about her performance on the 15th hole, Ashok said:
“The 15th hole was okay. I was scrambling between clubs and I just hit one more and went over. I still had a par. On the 15th also I missed the fairway; I was missing so many fairways. The frontline I just hit once. So, that was what was bad today. That took me out of position.”
It was always going to be tough for Aditi Ashok to make a comeback during the final holes. The 23-year-old said:
“17 [17th hole] was perfect. I hit it exactly at the speed and line I wanted to. Maybe, I made too many [birdies] in the previous rounds and the golfing gods were like you’re not going to get another one. I also tried on the 18th hole as well even though it was out of range. I tried to give it a chance.”
Aditi Ashok - Newest member of the 4th-place club
Before Ashok, many Indians, including Milkha Singh and PT Usha, have faltered at the final hurdle in their events and finished fourth at the Olympics by the barest of margins. When asked how it felt to be a member of this club, Aditi said:
“No, I didn’t [know such a club existed]. I didn’t want to be a part of this club but I think I’ve joined it now. Also, I think a top 5 or a top 10 finish is also good. It helps bring a lot of eyes to the sport. More kids pick it up.”
She further shared a message with young golfers in India about taking up the sport and said:
“When I started playing, I never thought I’d be here. Back then, Olympics didn’t even have golf. Sometimes you just pick up a thing, work hard, enjoy yourself and reach here.”
Aditi Ashok's valiant effort at the Summer Games in Tokyo did not go unnoticed. She had an entire nation glued to screens in anticipation of an Olympic medal. That in itself is an achievement. More so, as getting Indians to watch and follow an unpopular sport like golf is commendable. At 23, Ashok has already played in the LPGA and come within touching distance of an Olympic medal. She has a long way to go and her prowess in the sport suggests a bright future ahead.
Also read - India at Olympics 2021