Spotlight on champ Aditi

Spotlight on champ Aditi

Strong field promises exciting action in Indian Open

Spotlight on champ Aditi

Aditi Ashok has captured the imagination of Indian golfers like never before. The 19-year-old is coming from a long and tough season on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour before clinching a much-needed title win at Fatima Bin Mubarak Ladies Open, an LET Tour event, in Abu Dhabi last week.

She is now back on the tricky DLF Golf course to defend her title at the Hero Women's Indian Open, beginning here Friday. The Bengaluru golfer, who had a sensational run at LET last year, faces a strong challenge from the field comprising 114 players from over 25 countries. She, however, does not feel the pressure of replicating her success here, and confessed her love for playing at home.

"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 Aditi, the three-time LET winner.

"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."

The field includes four of the top-5 golfers from the LET's 2016 Order of Merit. Beth Allen, who topped the Money List last year; Aditi, who was second overall and also the Rookie of the Year, and Florentyna Parker were the top-3 besides No 5 Isabelle Boineau.

The win at Hero India Open, Aditi felt, set the ball rolling for her. She spent most of her season at US-based LPGA Tour and admitted gaining valuable experience.

"The win here last year set the bar for me and then I won two in a row. Qualifying for the LPGA was good. The level of experience I gain is invaluable and I'm one of the first girls from India to go there and do it. The first half of the year was a struggle as I didn't know if I would be playing that week or not as I had a conditional status," said Aditi, adding how she had gained yards on her drives this year, but still has some way to go to match longer hitters like Carlota.

"I played a lot of LPGA events. I also got to play all five majors this which was a great experience as a rookie. I didn't play as well as I hoped in LPGA. But last week was better and I am happy to be here this week."

While Carlota was excited to return to India for the fourth time, Allen, who tied for sixth place here last year, said: "This course is very difficult, which suits me, so I'm looking forward to getting a good result here."