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With two historic triumphs, India’s teenage prodigy golfer Aditi Ashok to play in Australia

Melbourne, January 29: Fast-rising teenage golfer Aditi Ashok scripted a double-first for India as she shot an even-par 72 in the final round to win the Hero Women’s Indian Open title in November, last year.

Significantly, this victory made her India’s first woman to bag a title on the Ladies European tour (LET).

Taking home a prize purse of $60,000 with the title, it also propelled her to the top spot in the Rookie of the Year rankings.

Declared the LET’s Rookie of the Year, thanks to her 10 top-10 finishes, including two historic triumphs on the Hero Women’s Indian Open and Qatar Ladies Open in November – this was among many firsts for an Indian woman.

Aditi managed to earn the United States-based Partial LPGA Tour membership for 2017 after finishing tied 24th in the qualifying event held in Florida last month.

The 18 years old from Bengaluru, who turned professional only in January 2016, has already played on the European Tour, LPGA and also represented India in the Rio Olympics, after a 108-year hiatus for India.

Aditi enjoyed a phenomenal 2016 when she finished 41st in the Rio Olympic Games and claimed the second spot on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit.

Aditi is now confirmed to play in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open to be held at Royal Adelaide Golf Club, next month.

Aditi Ashok swings a shot
Aditi Ashok swings a shot. She will play in Australia in February.

Such is the level of proficiency exhibited by the teen sensation, that world renowned golf coach David Leadbetter has advised Aditi to try and gain full access to the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, through which she can become a “beacon” in Indian women’s golf.

“Aditi could be the beacon for Indian ladies golf. She has moved up (professionally) quickly and she has huge potential,” the 64-year-old Englishman told reporters after inaugurating his first academy in India at the Oxford Golf Resort here.

“She is just 18 and she has the length and as gets stronger and improves her short game, she will be very good,” he added.

“She needs to now go to the LPGA, where all the top players in the world play. That will help her become mentally and physically stronger.”

She picked up golf when she was five years old. Talking to Bharat Times, she said it immediately clicked for her.

“I liked the fact that golf was an individual sport. Each day was a different experience and that’s what kept me interested, as I never got bored with the game as a child.”

She dedicated herself to the sport and when only 13, she won a professional event on the Women’s Golf Association of India tour.

“When I won, I felt that my game was at a level where if I worked harder then I would be able to compete on the global stage.”

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be played at Royal Adelaide Golf Club from Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 February.

Also announced to play in the Women’s Open are Lydia Ko (world #1), Ariya Jutanugam (world #2), Brooke Henderson (world #8), defending champion Haru Nomura, Australian representatives at the Rio Olympics Minjee Lee and Su Oh plus five-time champion Karrie Webb.

Raj Kumar

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