06 August 2021: She is playing pied piper. And drawing Indians into golf by the droves, even if only through their innocent curiosity. What is a birdie, someone asked? Come fly with Aditi Ashok responded another. The 23-year-old showed how much she has evolved since her disappointing weekend in Rio with a third round that ought to go into the annals of Indian sport as one of the most impeccable end game efforts, and not just in golf.
Diksha Dagar continued to fight her own battles, producing a stellar second nine on Friday. She has struggled this week after starting to a nervous 76. On Friday, Diksha made a birdie and two bogeys on the opening stretch, starting off the 10th tee, before coasting through her second nine with straight pars for a 72.
The golfer from Bengaluru was playing in the final group with the leader. Nelly Korda, even though just the same age as Aditi can be an intimidating presence. She rarely stands over her ball, plays a quick release and a confidence that comes with being a six-time winner on the LPGA and a major winner.
But Aditi was unfazed. With her mother Maheshwari on the bag, the Indian played with renewed determination and a monk like calm. She had only conceded a lone bogey through the first two rounds, producing one of the strongest putting performances of her young career. She was gaining nine strokes on the field from her putting. That is dominant by a mile and a half, as the next best golfer around the greens, Hannah Green is collecting 4.94 strokes.
Aditi put herself firmly in contention for medallion honours with three birdies in four holes from the fourth to remain within touching distance of the leader, Nelly Korda.
But it was after making two bogeys in three holes that Aditi showed her resolve, composure and determiination. Playing with a monk like calm and laser guided focus, Aditi restored those losses with birdies on the 15th and 17th holes to end the day at 12-under, just three back from the American.
With thunderstorms predicted for Saturday, the organising committee have arranged for split tees and early tee times for the final round. The fourth round will begin at 0300am IST.
Lydia Ko (66), Hannah Green (67), Emily Pedersen (70) and Inami Mone (68) are in a four way tie for third, after the Japanese golfer rolled off the green at the 18th hole to concede a bogey to end the round.
Aditi made five birdies in her third round. The Indian has been adding some fine ingredients this week to produce a commanding performance based on consistency and accuracy.
She made 33 of 42 fairways, rating 78.57% on driving accuracy. She has also reached 42 of 54 greens in regulation, that is 77.78%. While scrambling she is 10 of 12 or 83.33%.