Ashok bidding for Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open win

Joy Chakravarty 17:13 01/11/2016
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Increasingly comfortable under the glaring limelight of international golf, Aditi Ashok will attempt to turn her fantastic recent form in the Ladies European Tour into a podium finish at this week’s inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open.

The 18-year-old Indian, winner of the Qualifying School this year, is feeding off on the confidence of leading the Olympic golf event mid-way through the second round against some of the finest players in the world.

She has recorded four consecutive top-10 finishes on the LET since then, and also come through two stages of qualifying for the LPGA Tour.

It would seem that stars are lining up for Ashok. She played last week’s Sime Darby LPGA in Malaysia in the company of reigning world No1 Lydia Ko, and this week in Abu Dhabi, she will try to impress tournament ambassador Annika Sorenstam, the legendary Swede who inspired her to take up the game and has been a constant source of motivation in the past couple of years.

On the eve of the $550,000 tournament, which begins at the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, on Wednesday, she said: “Annika is definitely an inspiration. She’s one golfer who I grew up watching and I got to watch her win some tournaments.

“As a young golfer I watched her on TV and to see her here is amazing. I got to meet her at Rio as well, so it was fun.”

Now ranked 285th in the world, 31st on the LET Order of Merit and third on the Rookie of the Year standing, Ashok said she is hoping her results would get even better as she continues to gather experience of playing big events.

“I would say the more I play, the better I get in competition,” said the Bengaluru-based girl.

“At the beginning of the year, I hadn’t played much and I had high school exams so I didn’t practice as much as I usually do. I also changed my set in the beginning of the year to Titleist, so it was a bit tough to adjust to.

“Now I’ve had a lot of time to practice and a lot of events to play in, with each event I feel I’m getting better, so it’s good.”

The golfer, who took part in the 2014 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters as an amateur, is now looking forward to the unique tests of the ocean-front course at Saadiyat Beach.

“The weather is great and it’s a really nice golf course so I’m enjoying it,” she said.

“I love the greens; they are really huge. You need to hit the ball into the right spot on every hole. Some of the holes are easy, but the pin position can make it a birdie hole or a par.”

Aditi is paired with Denmark’s Nanna Madsen and Spain’s Nuria Iturrios and tees off at 7:45.

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