Despite being relatively new to the circuit of professional golf, Indian women are fairly new to professional golf, have contended, or been in Top-5 or Top-10 at the Hero Women's Indian Open on numerous occasions.
As the 10th edition of the Hero Women's Indian Open kick-starts on Friday, this is probably the first time that an Indian player (Aditi Ashok) is being seen as a strong contender for the title before the first shot has been hit. Aditi's best was T-8 in 2012 and she has been inside Top-15 on two other occasions.
Starting in 2007, Indian girls have finished in Top-10 on no less than five (2007, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014) occasions. In two other editions (2009 and 2015), they have been in Top-15 and twice between 20th and 25th.
With Jesus Mozo, brother of LET pro Belen, as her caddie, Aditi comes to her home event as a pro for the first time. Last December she stunned the golfing community by emerging as a comfortable winner at the LET Qualifying School. In her rookie year, she has made the cut in all but two of the 10 starts.
After making it to the Rio Olympics, the most heartening feature has been her string of consistent performances with four Top-10s in a row in Germany, Spain, France and China. During this period, she also qualified for the final stage of the LPGA.
"It's been a great year," said the soft-spoken Bengaluru girl, who has played the game since the age of six.
"It is great to be recognized by the fraternity and I am humbled by all the praise during this week," added Aditi of the adulation she has received this week. "I'm looking forward to playing in my home event and I want to do well here. This is where I played my first LET event, while still an amateur back in 2011 and I had my first top ten in 2012. However, this is my first time as a pro here, so I really want to do well."
Talking of the attention, she also added, "I am trying to focus on the game and have been taking care to rest it out also, as this is my sixth week in a row. Also some people have approached me and have been talking about sponsorships, and I have clarified that it is all being handled by my
personal team and not any agent or agency. My team includes my mother, who is a management professional, and my father and at least one of them have been with me at all events. I leave all management issues to them while I just focus on the golf."
Aditi apart, there are numerous other Indians, like Amandeep Drall, Vani Kapoor and Neha Tripathi, who have done well on the domestic Tour, and then there is Smriti Mehra, who is showing all her old sparkle. Amandeep recently scored a four-under at the same course and alongwith Aditi, this group could well bring Indian women's golf its first LET title this week.
The much-liked Aditi seen as one of 'babies of the LET Tour has played with all the seasoned stars like Beth Allen, Gwladys Nocera, Caroline Hedwall and many others. But this week, she could well be looking for her own place in the roster of LET winners.