Aditi Ashok ready for home challenge
Gurugram, November 8: Aditi Ashok returns to DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram to defend her Hero Women’s Indian Open title this week.
Despite being a woman in high demand by the local media, the 19-year-old from Bangalore says that she doesn’t feel any additional pressure to perform well on home soil.
“People assume that I like this golf course and I do, but it’s not that easy and my chances are the same as everyone else’s,” said the three time LET winner, who collected her third Tour trophy on Saturday at the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.
“I play golf because I enjoy it, and even when I was an amateur, if I had to step up my game, I did it. Obviously, I would love to have another win here and playing in this tournament means a lot to me. I could have played in China this week, where there is no cut, but I love playing in India, so I decided to come here.”
Aditi has played most of her golf on the United States-based LPGA Tour in 2017, but still prefers to live at home and travel for extended periods.
“Living in India may not be the least expensive way to do it, but the level of experience I gain is invaluable and I’m one of the first girls from India to go there and do it,” she continued, explaining that she has gained around 20 yards on her drives this year, but still has some distance to gain to catch up with the longer hitters such as Carlota Ciganda.
Among the star players at the press conference on Wednesday, Carlota said that she was thrilled to return to India. “It’s my fourth time in India and it’s always a pleasure to be here.”
Last year’s LET order of merit winner, Beth Allen, has enjoyed strong results at DLF and tied for sixth place 12 months ago. She said: “This course is very difficult, which suits me, so I’m looking forward to getting a good result here.”
Referring to the defending champion, she added: “I think it’s phenomenal what Aditi has done for this country. There have always been great players from here, like Simi Mehra, who has been around for a long time, but it’s really impressive what Aditi has done and I think she’s an inspiration for young girls especially.”
This is the 11th edition of the tournament, which became co-sanctioned with the LET for the first time in 2010. Looking ahead to the second decade, Mr J Narain of Hero Motocorp Ltd, commented: “This wonderful tournament has become a landmark event in women’s golf. Our dream has become a reality. Ten years ago, who would have thought that some of the best women golfers would come to compete on Indian soil and that an Indian player would win the top prize. That Aditi has returned is a very proud moment for all of us here.”
Meanwhile, Carly Booth returns to DLF Golf and Country Club to compete in the Hero Women’s Indian Open this week, where she will be looking for a third Ladies European Tour title as part of the 114-player field.
A big fan of India, Carly was chosen to feature in Incredible India’s global marketing campaign, which was filmed in New Delhi and Calcutta, in April.
“It was great to come to India and see some different parts because when I’m playing in a golf tournament I usually only see the hotel and golf course, but I had three days of exploring and filming,” said the former Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open and Deutsche Bank Swiss Open champion, who is seen playing gully cricket and golf, on some of India’s world class courses.
She added: “I enjoy the food here and I have seen some really beautiful parts of India. I feel blessed, but I still want to go to the Taj Mahal.”
Carly was selected by the producers thanks to her strong public profile and she added: “It was nice to be asked and to be recognised because I spend a lot of time and effort on my social media. When I’m at a golf tournament, I’m focused on my golf, but during the shoot I had the opportunity to experience and see more.
“As far as this week goes, I’ve been hitting the ball nicely and I’ve got to keep that confidence high. My game is not far away and a lot of it is in my head. I’ve just got to believe in myself: that’s my only goal this week – and to have fun.”
The Hero Women’s Indian Open got its first taste of competition albeit in the Skills Challenge on Wednesday, setting the mood for the rest of the week. Both teams won two skills each to finish the tie level at 2-2. With Rs. 60,000 on offer for each Skill, the teams earned Rs. 1,20,000 each and that was shared among the four players in both teams.
Four players each from Asia and the Rest of the world contested in the Hero Skills Challenge that required two chosen players from either team to display the skills. Team Asia comprised Sharmila Nicollet, amateur Gaurika Bishnoi, Thais Thidapa Suwannapura and Supamas Sangchan, while the Rest of the World team was made up of Beth Allen, Carlota Ciganda, Belen Mozo and Ann Van Dam.
Playing on the 18th green, the teams were first required to pitch from 100 yards and then try and hit the Hero Scooter, which was strategically placed right in the centre of the lake next to the 18th. Then they were required to come out of the bunker before finally they competed in the long putt.
Sharmila, coming off a three-month training stint in Florida, where she trained with Gary Gilchrist, pitched from 100 yards to within three feet and nine inches to grab the top spot.
In the second skill, last year’s LET Order of Merit winner, Beth Allen found her target, the Hero Scooter, whilst others missed out.
The 2013 Hero Women’s Indian Open champion, Thidapa Suwannapura came out of the bunker to within a foot and 10 inches, while Carlota Ciganda, the highest ranked player in the field, got the ball to stop a foot and eight inches from the pin in the Long putt.
100-yard shot: Team Asia (Sharmila Nicollet – 3 feet 9 inches)
Precision (hitting the target Hero Scooter): Team Rest of the World (Beth Allen)
Long Bunker Shot: Team Asia – (Thidapa Suwannapura- 1 foot 10 inches)
Long Putt: Team Rest of the World (Carlota Ciganda – 1 foot 8 inches)
All you need to know about Hero Women’s Indian Open
Field: 114 players
Purse: US $ 400,000
Course: DLF Golf and Country Club, Gary Player
Indians 17 (including 4 amateurs)
Past champions in the field:
Aditi Ashok 2016
Thidapa Suwannapura 2013
Top World ranked players (in Top-200):
Carlota Ciganda No. 20
Aditi Ashok No. 81
Florentyna Parker No. 121
Beth Allen No. 130
Belen Mozo No. 198
Thidapa Suwannapura No. 199
Three winners from 2017 LET Schedule:
Klara Spilkova (Lalla Meryem Cup)
Florentyna Parker (Mediterranean Ladies Open)
Aditi Ashok (Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open)
Six winners (8 titles) from 2016 LET schedule:
Aditi Ashok (Hero Women’s Indian Open and Qatar Ladies)
Beth Allen (Fatima Bin Mubarak, Abu Dhabi; Ladies Open de France;
Supamas Sangchan (Sanya Ladies, China)
Anne van Dam (Xiamen International, China)
Isabelle Boineau (Scottish Open)
Nurios Iturrios (Lalla Meryem Cup)
Two winners from 2015 LET schedule
Hannah Burke (Czech Ladies)
Rebecca Artis (Scottish Open)
Three winners (4 titles) from 2014 LET schedule
Kylie Henry (Deloitte Ladies and German Open)
Trish Johnson (Scottish Open)
Florentyna Parker (Italian Open)
6 Players from Top-20 of 2017 LET Order Of Merit:
Carlota Ciganda No. 6
Klara Spilkova No. 9
Florentyna Parker No. 12
Aditi Ashok No. 13
Anne Van Dam No, 16
Ana Menedez No, 19
Leading Players from 2016 LET Order Of Merit:
Beth Allen (No, 1)
Aditi Ashok (No. 2)
Florentyna Parker (No. 3)
Isabelle Boineau (No. 5)
Nuria Iturrios (No. 10)