Bangalore teenager Aditi Ashok starts a new chapter this week when she tees up in her first professional tournament at the Oates Victorian Open at 13th Beach Resort in Australia.
The 17-year-old showed her prodigious talent when she became the first Indian player to win the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier in December, setting a new women’s course record with a round of 10 under par at Samanah Golf Club in Marrakech.
There is plenty of expectation surrounding the rising star ahead of her Ladies European Tour debut next week, when she will play in the season-opening ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.
Aditi recorded her maiden win at the age of nine years and 10 months and during her last year as an amateur, she won the St Rule Trophy, Ladies British Amateur Stroke play, Singha Thailand Amateur and also earned a silver medal at the International European Ladies Amateur Championship. She also won two professional tournaments on the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) and turned pro ranked 11th in the world.
When asked about her goals for her first year as a professional, she said: “To win LET Rookie of the year and make it to the 2016 Olympics. The Olympic Games is very much on my mind: it is one of my short term goals.”
She hopes to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in mid-August as one of the 60 female athletes qualified through the Olympic Golf Rankings, with points earned from the World Rankings up to and including 11 July. Although she won’t finish her high school exams until the first week of April, she feels that she is ready to take the step up. “I have always wanted to be a professional ever since I started playing golf, and so to realise this dream means a lot. I am excited to start my rookie season.
“I still have a lot to achieve and a lot of golf to play so I am taking it one step at a time. But to know that I am inspiring a lot of golfers in my country motivates me to work harder and do my best.”
On the course, Ashok exudes a calm demeanour but there is clearly a steel to the youngster, who has received valuable advice from the former world number one woman golfer.
“I look up to Annika Sorenstam and had a chance to meet her in Feb 2015. She told me to always focus and work towards achieving my goals and knowing exactly what I want to do and going after it.”
Ashok is keen to be paired with fellow Hall of Fame legends Laura Davies, Karrie Webb in Australia, where she is playing this week for the first time.
On initial impressions, Ashok said: “The weather has been pretty good, people are warm and caring; golf courses are really good. I am also excited to be staying right here at the 13th Beach Links, thanks to Mr. David and Ms. Melinda Peebles who are hosting me and my mom. I would like to experience most of the culture and I definitely want to make time to go see kangaroos and koalas.”