The day golf won over the Indian sports fans

The day golf won over the President, PM and Indian sports fans

The nation of 1.3 billion people was glued to TV sets as early as 5 am

Aditi Ashok, of India, watches her tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the women's golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday. Credit: AP/PTI Photo

From classes to masses in a matter of few hours. Golf managed to excite India like never before thanks to one woman's history-making star turn at the Olympics.

The fourth and final round of the Olympic women's golf event in Tokyo may easily end up being the most-watched event in the history of the sport in India.

The nation of 1.3 billion people was glued to TV sets as early as 5 am, following the fortunes of Aditi Ashok, who after three days, was lying second and in line for an unprecedented medal at Olympic golf.

The 23-year-old, who played in Rio 2016 as well, had the global fraternity cheering her then after two days of great golf. But she finished T-41st and was then forgotten.

Read more: Golfer Aditi Ashok narrowly misses Olympics medal, finishes 4th

On Saturday, she missed the medal by a whisker and signed off 4th but her performance took golf to never-before-seen heights in India in a matter of hours.

Birdie, bogey, eagle trended on social media as people scrambled to make sense of drives and putts in the sport largely considered a sport of the rich, generating the kind of buzz that is mostly reserved for cricket matches.

Her gutsy play not only earned her a lot of eyeballs, but also fulsome praise from the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others

"Well played, Aditi Ashok! One more daughter of India makes her mark! You have taken Indian golfing to new heights by today's historic performance. You have played with immense calm and poise. Congratulations for the impressive display of grit and skills," the President tweeted.

Modi summed it up aptly by stating, "A medal was narrowly missed but you've gone farther than any Indian and blazed a trail."

Till some days ago and even in the final round, some commentators referred to shots as 'points' yet the interest in golf was undeniable as Aditi consistently stayed in Top-3 for the first three rounds.

Placed second after three days of competition and with the news filtering in of a possible storm, India was salivating over the prospect of a medal from golf, a sport considered elitist.

On Saturday, even more than during the third round on Friday, all eyes and ears seemed to be on Aditi as she came close to a medal.

One of the social media platforms, 'Twitter Spaces' had more than 140 people at one time discussing Indian golf even though everyone watched it on TV.

Participants included athletes from other sports like former Olympians Aparna Popat, a former world junior silver medallist in badminton, Table tennis star Neha Aggarwal and professional golfer S Chikkarangappa, who last week was Anirban Lahiri's caddie in Tokyo.

The platform was full of activity for as long as four to five hours.

On Twitter, Olympians like Abhinav Bindra were following and praising Aditi. Mahesh Bhupathi, who once came fourth alongside Leander Paes in Olympic tennis, was expressing his appreciation and that he was now a "fan for life" of the Bengalurean.

Golf has never really got the attention it has deserved, often because many people don't understand it.

Yet more recently, the exploits of Jeev Milkha Singh, Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma, Aditi Ashok, Tvesa Malik and Diksha Dagar have found space in the sports pages of newspapers.

But Saturday onwards, golf may no longer be a poor rich cousin of many of the other sports.