23 October 2022: Olivia Cowan produced a brilliant finish over the weekend as she closed the final round with a solid 4-under 68 to win the Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club. For the 26-year-old German, Cowan, it was her maiden win on the LET after no less than 27 Top-10 finishes in 96 starts on the Tour.
Cowan totalled 13-under 275 and won by three shots over home favourite Amandeep Drall (72) and Caroline Hedwall (71), who dropped a bogey on the 18th to slip from sole second to joint second with the Indian.
Cowan picked up the biggest cheque of her career at US$ 60,000, while the 2011 winner Hedwall was runner-up for the third time in five starts at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
For Drall, it was her best career finish on the LET and it also fetched her US$ 6,000 more than what she would have at third. Hedwall and Drall picked up US$ 30,000 each.
Cowan after winning her first LET title despite being on the Tour since 2015, was very emotional at the prize presentation. She said, “I have come close a few times, but I am so happy to get over the line. I love coming here and this is going to be one of my most memorable moments and I will come back again to try and win this Trophy again.”
She added, “I was quite relaxed to be honest the whole weekend. I wasn’t really thinking of winning this time. I just wanted to go out there and have a good mindset and just play good golf. I was playing good golf so I just decided to trust that and come out today and just see what happens really.”
It was a great week for the home golfers, who had four players in Top-8 with the Tokyo Olympic fourth-place finisher, Aditi Ashok (71) in fourth place, while Gaurika Bishnoi (73) was tied sixth at 4-under and Vani Kapoor (69) capped her tenth straight cut in the tournament with a Tied-eighth place. Gaurika’s tied sixth place was her best at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
The day’s joint best card came from the Indian amateur, Avani Prashanth, whose 5-under 67 saw her finish T-12 overall. Two other young Indians, Nishtha Madan (73), who plays on the Epson Tour in the US, and Hitaashee Bakshi (71), who a week ago won the LET Pre-Qualifiers to get into the Final stage of Qualifying School, were tied 20th.
Cowan’s previous two visits to India produced finishes of T-19 in 2017 and T-9 in 2018 and this year her best on the Tour was T-4 in her home event, the Amundi German Masters.
In Jeddah, last year Cowan led by two when she came to the 18th, but double bogeyed the last, while Pia Babnik of Sweden birdied and won by one. “I was aware of what can happen even on the last hole,” she said with a smile.
Cowan admitted, “In the morning before the start, I knew I had a chance because I was only one back. But on the course, I was not comfortable or sure till the end, because anything can happen. And I do remember what happened to Christine Wolf (in 2018).” Cowan was T-8 that year.
She smiled and added, “Maybe after the birdie on 17th, I felt I could win now, but on this course nothing is for sure.” On if she had ever shot 11-under over the weekend (65-68), she laughed and said, “I don’t think so, but it felt great. Overall, it has been a great week.”
Cowan who started the final round one shot behind the home favourite Amandeep Drall, was still one behind at the turn and tied with Hedwall for second. Hedwall birdied the 11th and Cowan birdied the 12th to join Drall at the top. The trio playing together parred the next two holes.
With four holes left and three players tied at 11-under, a play-off looked imminent, before Cowan holed a crucial birdie on the Par-5 15th. With Drall dropping a birdie on the same hole, Cowan was sole leader at 12-under, while Hedwall was 11-under and Drall fell to 10-under.
Cowan did not look back. As Hedwall and Drall found it difficult to find a birdie, Cowan almost nailed the title with yet another birdie on the dangerous Par-4 17th to move to 13-under, two clear of Hedwall and three ahead of Drall.
Drall said, “I am pleased with the performance, even though I did not win. I felt if the putts in 12th and 13th, the first from seven feet and the other from nine feet were crucial. If they had fallen, I would have got the momentum. But overall, I am happy the way I held out and this should improve my ranking and get me more events.”
Hedwall in a do-or-die attempt went for broke and possibly an eagle in 18th and ended up dropping a shot on the closing 18th. That meant she fell to 10-under with Drall.
Strong Indian Performances
Amandeep Drall’s tied second place at the US$400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open was the icing on the cake in a week that saw a very strong display by the home contingent.
Amandeep was in contention till late on Sunday but finally finished with scores of 67, 72, 76 and 72. “Today, I wouldn’t say it was a bad round. Level par on this DLF course is always a very good score especially when I was playing in the leader group for the very first time. My front nine was better and on the back nine, I missed two short birdie putts on 12th and 13th. Yet, Overall I was very happy with the way I played over the four days.”
Taking sole fourth place was LPGA regular Aditi Ashok (70-71-69-71) with a seven-under par 281 aggregate while Gaurika Bishnoi (71-68-72-73) was tied for sixth place on four-under 284.
Aditi said, “Not a bad result overall but I was hoping for better. This is not an easy course but I also missed a lot of birdies through the week. The 18th hole bogey was disappointing.” Aditi had a bogey on a Par-5 in both the third and final rounds.
Vani Kapoor (72-71-73-69) was the fourth Indian in the top 10, sharing the eighth place with a three-under 285. “I am glad I was able to make some ground today in the final round. This result should push me up the Order of Merit also,” said Kapoor, who played and made the cut in her tenth start at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
Both Vani and Gaurika are regulars at the DLF Golf and Country Club, the venue of the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
Avani Prashanth won the amateurs’ plate with a one-under 287 aggregate (75-76-69-67) ahead of US-based Anika Varma and Mysore’s Vidhatri Urs.
Amongst the rest of the Indian professionals, Hitaashee Bakshi (73-74-71-71) and Nishtha Madan (72-73-71-73) were tied for 20th place on one-over 289 and Neha Tripathi (74-72-74-72) was T27 on four-over 292.