Aditi Ashok has returned to DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon to defend at the Hero Women’s Indian Open 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.”