After many an Indian woman knocking on the doors of the Hero Women’s Indian Open golf over the past 10 years, 18-year-old Rookie Aditi Ashok finally opened and door and entered the pages of Indian golfing history, by becoming the first Indian woman to win a title on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
Aditi (72) totaled three-under 213, while Belen Mozo (71) of Spain and American Brittany Lincicome (69) were tied second at two-under 214 and Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul (71) was fourth at one-under 215.
“Winning a title in my Rookie Year, was my goal, but to be able to do that in my home Open, the Hero Women’s Indian Open, is indeed as good as it gets,” said Aditi, who despite historic win, kept her composure just as she did while nailing the four-foot birdie on the final hole to wrest the Trophy at the Gary Player layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon.
“Over the years I have always stood on the other side as the Trophy was being presented and always wondered what it would be like to actually won it,” she said after she got the glittering Trophy from Mr. Pawan Munjal, Chairman, CEO, Managing Director of Hero Motocorp.
Asked for her first reactions, Aditi added , “It feels good, because I was playing well all year but I was never able to get all my good rounds together. Four top tens and now a win. It’s great for me. “ Talking of the final hole and her third shot, Aditi said, “I was thinking of playing at the flag, so that if I was short or a little past it wouldn’t bounce a lot. I hit it left and I had a few of those on the front nine where I missed left, but luckily there was a slope which caught it. I thought it was in the rough but it caught the slope, so that was pretty cool. It rolled to just under four feet.”
On the way she handled the pressure and stayed calm in closing stages, she smiled and said, “I guess it will sink in in a few hours or when I reach home. I’ve had a lot of good finishes at the Indian Open and to finally get the job done, feels good, especially as an Indian player in front of my home crowd. It means a lot to win this. We’ve had really good sponsors, especially Hero, who’s supported this event and the local tour for quite some time now.”
The 18-year-old Olympian from Bengaluru started the final round with a two stroke lead at three-under-par. That swelled to four with a birdie on the par-4 second. But a bogey on seventh saw her fall in a tie with Thai Muangkhumsakul at 3-under.A birdie on 10th as she turned home gave Aditi back the lead at four-under-par. She was now one ahead of the Thai and Mozo. Both Muangkhumsakul and Aditi bogeyed 14th dropping into shared lead. Mozo, too, bogeyed 14, but birdied 15 to share the lead again.
The Thai dropped yet another shot on 18th to finish at one-under, while Lincicome finished bogey-free 69 to be the clubhouse leader. With defending champion Emily Pedersen unable to recover from the three bogeys she had between fourth and seventh holes, it was down to Aditi and Mozo and possibly Lincicome.
There was another twist as both Aditi and Mozo bogeyed 17th to tie with Lincicome as they went to par-5 last hole. On the 18th Mozo’s approach ended around 20 feet right of the flag, but Ashok’s ‘lucky shot’ hit the upslope in front of the rear bunker and spun back to four feet left of the hole.She took home US$ 60,000 and moved to top of the rankings for Rookie of the Year and into Top-10 of the rankings overall.