Anand Datla is a management consultant with a passion for sport

Aditi Ashok heralds a new spring in Indian golf

Aditi Ashok broke new ground for women's golf in India with her victory at the Hero Women's Indian Open

2095

November 13, 2016 The horizon across the DLF Golf and Country Club wore an orange hue this morning – warm and vivacious. The beginning of winter rarely feels like a spring, but Sunday sure felt that way. Aditi Ashok was up by two and no Indian had ever won an event on the Ladies European Tour. The scent of history and the vividly beautiful horizon made for a dreamy start to a promising day.

Our Women’s golf is nearly as old as Independent India, yet progress hasn’t been easy in coming. After many false dawns and six long decades of waiting, the emergence of Aditi Ashok is indeed the real deal. As she marched inexorably through the final stretch, every putt Aditi made was coated in honey for the parched throats of the many exasperated golf souls that lined the course.

This was no ordinary victory. Aditi Ashok made slaying the beast seem like a day inside an art workshop with a master craftsman. The DLF course has been tormenting grown golfers, baring its fangs and sinking its teeth, ripping the hearts open from the heavily weathered collection of European golfers.

Aditi’s course management and shot making discipline betrayed her youthful pedigree. At 18, she is clearly a golfer who is not just ready for the big league, but one who is prepared to run the table on her own terms.

Aditi’s bounce back on Saturday after a bruising double bogey at the ninth was the kind of theatre that is being scripted by this tenacious girl from Bengaluru. The back nine at the Gary Player course is considered a tough challenge, accepted universally as a test of character.

Aditi was five under Saturday through a spotless stretch to the clubhouse, making five glorious birdies on the final eight holes. As it turned out, that became the bedrock of her celebrated victory on Sunday. The blinding run in the third round afforded the young girl a two shot cushion, a luxury she protected carefully for much of the final round.

Thai golfer Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul, Spaniard Belen Mozo, Americans Brittany Lincicome and Beth Allen threatened to challenge the Indian golfer, but to no avail. It was certainly not a perfect Sunday for Aditi, who missed makeable putts on several holes, especially on the front nine.

It is a tribute to her temperament that Aditi did not let the disappointment seep underneath her skin, playing unflustered golf through tense afternoon. A final blip came at the 17th when Aditi took three strokes from close range to suffer a bogey. But as fate might decree, Belen, who was herself a beneficiary of a fortunate bounce on to the green off a spectator, obliged with a bogey of her own to keep things even.

As the players marched to the final tee, there was a three way tie for the lead. As we wondered aloud about a playoff, Aditi shut the door on the field with a final hole birdie that shall be celebrated for many years to come. She is the first Indian ever to win a tournament on the Ladies European Tour.

Victory could nearly seal for her the rookie of the season award, but more importantly – it guarantees her a card for the next two years. She will also break into the top 10 of the 2016 LET Order of Merit.

And for once, this isn’t no false dawn. It is the beginning of a young woman setting about on a voyage of self-discovery. The story of her conquests could give Indian golf a deservingly glorious narrative.

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