For all of you that followed the Olympics golf, there were two ways of looking at Aditi Ashok’s performance at the Olympics. One is that the 18-year-old, whom many of us were introduced to for the first time, was well out of medal contention, finishing 41st out of 60 players in the women’s golf event with a score of 7-over 291, a full 23 shots behind eventual gold medal winner Inbee Park.
The other is that Ashok, the youngest player in the field, entered the Olympics ranked 57 out of 60 golfers, which means she finished 16 places above her ranking, while also (briefly) holding the lead towards the end of her second round, when she reached 7-under par. It was a heady place to be. She would finish the second round at 6-under, having shot 68-68 over the first two days, leaving her tied for eighth place. Suddenly women’s golf was very interesting to a lot of people in India, a substantial number of whom had probably taken very little interest in the sport before.
With Ashok making an appearance at the Olympics for the first time in over a century, it was the perfect opportunity to draw attention to a sport that receives little of it in India. It’s fair to say that on this score, Ashok did her job. After PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar, here is another female Indian athlete making waves at these Games. That it didn’t result in a medal is secondary.
“Obviously I didn’t play as well as I hoped, especially the last two days,” Ashok said. “But I’m sure there has been a lot of attention on me, so women’s golf has become a bit popular. I’m hoping to see it grow in coming times,” she continued, optimistically. There are also the personal lessons that Ashok would have learned. Besides offering her the chance to represent her country, the Olympics was also a chance for Ashok to test her game against the best in the world with nine of the top ten ranked women in the field. She will understand better how to handle the pressure of being among the tournament leaders the next time she finds herself in it.
“I’m going to build on this, and the next time I play bigger events, I’m sure this experience is going to help me,” she said. Ashok’s pedigree as a golfer is as good as any Indian’s, if not better. She is a three-time National Amateur Junior Champion and a two-time National Amateur Champion, winning both events in 2014. Overall, she won 17 titles in her amateur career, including six international ones. She was the first Indian to win the St Rule Trophy (Ladies British Amateur Stroke Play) and the Singha Thailand Amateur Championship.
She is also the youngest player (at 17) to ever win the Lalla Aicha Tour School, the qualifying event for the Ladies European Tour. For good measure, she broke the tournament record with a score of 23-under par as well. With her performance at the Olympics and at the recent Ladies European Tour in Spain, where she finished in solo sixth place on three under par to record her career best finish, whilst fellow LET rookie Olivia Cowan of Germany ended a stroke back in seven, she promises to be a talent to watch.
She is proof that Indian women’s golf is in good hands. With her success and being vocal about her progress, we are positive the new generation of women golfers are watching and are now reaching for a golf club and setting out for the course!
written by Rayana Edwards
UniMedia Marketing & Corporate Social Investment