February 05, 2023: Aditi Ashok triumphed at the 2023 Magical Kenya Ladies Open winning the tournament by nine shots to secure her fourth LET title. Avani Prashanth finished in T9 for her first top ten on the Ladies European Tour, while still an amateur.
The two-time Olympian produced the wire-to-wire victory at Vipingo Ridge where a round of 74 (+1) on the final day was enough for the win.
It was a tough afternoon for the 24-year-old as she made three bogeys and two birdies on day four, but Ashok had put in the hard work in earlier in the week to win.
“It has been a great week, it’s proof to myself that my off-season and hard work has paid off,” said Ashok.
“It was just hard to get that shot out of my mind, I think that hole [the eighth] doesn’t suit my eye so I didn’t play it that well today, but after that I think I got back into my rhythm and just kept hitting fairways and greens. I think the last few holes, I didn’t make many good swings but it’s okay, I guess!
“That was cool to have the giraffes there, it’s definitely different and part of the experience of playing in Kenya. It was cool to see giraffes – I don’t think I’ve ever seen them that close before.”
It is Ashok’s first trip to the winner’s circle on the LET since the 2017 Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open and she paid tribute to father Gudlamani, who was on the bag once again, as well as to her team back at home.
She added: “It was good to have my dad on the bag – three of my wins have been with him caddying, but not just him there’s my mum back home and I have worked a lot with my coach and my fitness team.
“All of us have put in a lot of work over two months just to get back to my original strength level and this is the first week I’ve felt like I’ve been back to where I was a couple of years ago which is pretty good.”
England’s Alice Hewson and Thailand’s April Angurasaranee finished in a tie for second place on three-under-par in the LET season-opener.
LET winner Hewson, who finished 12th in the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol, ended her week with a round of 72 (-1) to move up the leaderboard and into the runners-up spot.
“It’s been a really enjoyable first trip to Kenya, I loved the golf course and quite enjoyed playing in the wind,” said Hewson.
“It required a little bit of creativity out there, I definitely hit a lot of fade shots coming in and holding it against the wind and I think that was a good way to try and get close to some of those flags out there.
“It definitely feels good to come out of off-season and hit the ground running. I feel very happy with where my game is and where it is headed and I’m happy to be here.
“Kenya has been a really incredible country; everyone has been so welcoming. Seeing all the animals out on the golf course is always helpful, we’ve had a thoroughly good time and I couldn’t have asked for a better week to start the year.”
Thailand’s Angurasaranee has a difficult final day carding a round of four-over, but it was still enough to finish T2 and have an excellent start to her rookie year on the LET.
She explained: “It was not the last round that I wanted, but this week has been so far beyond my expectations. Coming into the week, I needed a top 10 to go to Morocco next week and finishing tied for second is amazing.
“I was just trying to be myself out there and try to hit good drives and good shots and make as many putts as I could without being overly needy. I was just trying to stay as myself and play golf and have fun.
“This is my second or third time in the last group and playing with Aditi and watching her play and her shots was an incredible experience.”
Australia’s Gabriela Ruffels finished in fourth place on two-under-par, with Japan’s Yuri Onishi and Finland’s Noora Komulainen in T5 on level par.
LET rookies Sara Kjellker of Sweden and Amalie Leth-Nissen of Denmark ended the tournament in T7 on two-over-par.
While eight players finished in a share of ninth place with Belgium’s Manon De Roey, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord, France’s Emma Grechi, Spain’s Marta Sanz Barrio, Italy’s Virginia Elena Carta, Indian amateur Avani Prashanth, Wales’ Becky Morgan and England’s Cara Gainer all on three-over.
In the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol, Ashok sits at the top of the standings after the season-opener having collected all 500 points with Hewson and Angurasaranee each on 275 points.