June 25, 2017: Aditi Ashok produced one of her best rounds on the LPGA, leaping into a tie for fifth in the NWA Championship. So Yeon Ryu continued her run of brilliance, this time with a 61 to gain a five stroke lead going into Sunday. Stacy Lewis and Moriya Jutanugarn are trailing the leader.
Ryu’s 61 may have overshadowed everything else in Arkansas, but Aditi served a timely warning of her own potential as a top professional golfer.
Aditi fired eight birdies in her most prolific round yet on the LPGA. The Bengalurean has taken some getting used to the conditions in America, but last night’s round was evidence of her growing relationship with the courses.
“Obviously, I feel good,” said Ashok, who joins Simi Mehra as the only Indian women who hold LPGA Tour cards. “I knew yesterday with the wind the morning half is the scoring half, so I knew if I got out early and hit some good shots, I would be able to make some birdies. I dropped one shot, but I hold enough putts to have a good score so I’m happy”
The 105th ranked Indian started her round with a birdie at the 10th hole. She slipped back to even when she conceded bogey at the par-4 13th of the Pinnacle Country Club course.
There was to be no looking back though from there, as Aditi waltzed around the course collecting birdies with abandon.
Aditi made back to back birdies to the close her first nine in just 32 strokes. There was no slowing her down at the turn, as she made it five in a row with birdies at the first three holes of her second nine.
The 19 year old picked up another stroke at the 7th hole to sign off in style, as she accounted for her lowest score on the LPGA.
This is Aditi’s rookie season on the LPGA and Saturday’s round should give her much needed confidence. Aditi needed just 24 putts in the second round, making 11 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
The round helped Aditi climb from T53 to T5, 8 strokes behind the runaway leader So Yeon Ryu. The Korean was in a class of her own, firing five birdies on either side for a fluent 61.
“The Olympics was sort of halfway into my rookie year on the LET, but it was a huge experience,” added Ashok, who finished 41st at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. “I was in the top three after the first few days, but I didn’t finish that well. But still just being in an event that big, getting to play with some of the best players in the world was pretty good, and I sort of figured out where my game was at and then I worked hard. I won a couple of events on LET, which was a good sign, and then I made it through Q school, and now I’m here.”
Ashok is looking to improve upon her best LPGA finish of T32, which she earned at the Meijer LPGA Classic last week.
“I had a great season last year but obviously the LPGA is where the best play,” said Ashok, “so I’m just excited to be in this position, and I’m just going to try to make the most of it and give my best.“
Jutanugarn and Lewis scored 65 each to end the day at 11-under 131, five strokes off the leader. Amy Yang was in solo fourth, also fueled by an elegant 65.
Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Minjee Lee are locked in fifth with Aditi at 8-under 134.