Marrakech (Morocco): Aditi Ashok rounded off a dream week with a birdie that gave her a comprehensive three-shot win on the European Tour's Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier.
Aditi Ashok. Pic/Getty Images
Aditi, just 17, and still an amateur, becomes the first Indian, men or women, ever to win a Qualifying School event for an international Tour. In her final round Aditi Ashok had two bogeys in first three holes, but then with four birdies and carded two-under 70 in a tension-packed fifth to total a whopping 23-under, while Danish golfer, Daisy Nielsen (66) finished second at 20-under. Aditi's earlier rounds included a record 10-under 62 in the third round and she was under par on each of the five days.
The win gives Aditi Ashok full playing rights for 2016 and will be the only Indian to have that on Ladies European Tour. Before Aditi, another Bangalore golfer, Sharmila Nicollet held playing rights on Ladies European Tour, but this year she failed to get her card. An elated Aditi said, "It's an amazing feeling because I
came into the tournament obviously wanting to give myself a chance to win but also just wanting to play consistent enough to get a card. Winning it and getting a card is just that much better. I could have played a bit better today and shot in the 60s but I won so I guess its fine."
Aditi was delighted to be among the pros and said, "Yes! I've always wanted to be a professional because I just love playing golf. It's been my dream ever since I was a kid so it's great to make the first step in getting there. I'm really happy. I'm just 17 but I'm going to try and do my best every week and hopefully have a good rookie year and build my career from there."
Aditi started somewhat tentatively with bogeys on second and third but then steadied. "From the sixth hole I was going for birdies and I had quite a few good putts that just narrowly missed the hole so six, seven, eight, nine. I knew that I could recover from my two bogeys. "It was unfortunate that Karolin made a double bogey (on
the ninth) but she had a difficult lie in the bunker. I guess that sort of helped me a little bit and gave me a cushion with her being two back. I made a birdie on 11 and I kept trying again. I made one on 15 and I think by then that was good enough."
Talking of her finish with a birdie, she said, "On 18, there was a lot of wind coming in and I underestimated the wind so it ended up four yards in front. It was a front pin so I was just playing a few feet to the hole but it just went in, so it was lucky there." Having taken to golf at a very early age and encouraged by her parents, father Ashok, who caddies for her, and mother, who often accompanies her, Aditi has played for India from the time she was 10.
In September 2011, she became the youngest amateur at 13 years and five months to win a pro event at the Hero Women's Pro Tour event in her home town, Bangalore. She has represented India from the age of 12. At 12 she was the youngest to play for India at the Queen Sirikit Cup as India finished fourth. She also played at the Asian Games in 2014 and now aims of playing the Rio Olympics next year.
In 2015, Aditi won numerous titles, among which were St. Rule Trophy and Ladies British Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship. She also played in several Ladies European Tour events as an amateur, notably finishing as the low amateur three times in the Hero Women's Indian Open in 2012, 2014 and 2015 at T8th, T14th and T13th respectively. She was also the first Indian to play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters where she finished 38th.
In the final stage, at Samanah Golf Club in Marrakech today as 67 competitors from 29 different countries vie for Ladies European Tour Membership in 2016. The qualifiers started with 241 players competing over five weeks of the Lalla Aicha Tour School, including a record four Pre-Qualifiers, the top 30 players and those tied at the end of today¿s fifth and final round of Final Qualifying earned the Tour card.
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