New Delhi, May 23: Aditi Ashok who has been at home for almost three months now is greatly relieved with the announcement that all players on the Ladies PGA (LPGA) Tour, exempt during the 2020 season, will get to keep their cards for the 2021 season, too.
Aditi said, “It’s a great move by the LPGA. It was obviously inevitable with the international nature of the LPGA. Many players are from different countries so it would have been hard to coordinate with players and their country’s regulations. It’s a huge relief for sure and it’s one less thing that we have to think about while playing.”
Aditi, whose last event was the New South Wales Open in Australia, where she was Tied-4tth, tried to get to the US before the ban came into effect, but flight schedules and plans did not materialize. And suddenly the event in Arizona was cancelled, which meant that if Aditi had managed to bring forward her plans and reached US, she would have been stuck as countries soon stopped allowing international flights from coming.
Aditi had played just two LPGA events in 2020 – the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Raton and the Australian Women’s Open in February and she missed the cut in both. She stayed on in Australia and played Ladies European Tour events – the Ladies Classic, Bonville (T-24) and then seemed to be hitting form right in time with a fourth place at NSW Open, when the shutters came down.
With the situation still fluid and no Tour having begun as yet Aditi has not crystallised any plans. “It is tough to work on that right now,” she said.
With the lockdown in force in Bengaluru, she has been home, but practicing in an innovative manner. “I have already started practicing a lot more on my terrace. I have been hitting balls with pretty much everything from short irons to hybrid and woods, and I have also been doing chipping,” said Aditi, who began hitting the ball into a big curtain hung on terrace, as she was unable too get the nets because of delivery issues during Lockdown.
With Bengaluru now opening up, she is adopting a wait-and-watch approach before going to the course. “I love to play on the course. But now, I have to conform to the rules, see the crowd, the timings available, see how often I can get out of the house and go play. It’s going to be different, but I am sure every athlete is doing their best to prepare.” Hopefully Aditi will soon be back on the course, first for practice and then when the time is right travel to US and play on the LPGA.
In March, when an LPGA event was scheduled in Arizona Aditi was trying to get to the US before incoming flights were stopped by US. However, she could not manage a change in flights. Then came the announcement of the cancellation of the event. It was a relief that the announcement happened before she had left India or reached US, else she would have been stuck in the US.
The LPGA is scheduled to resume play with the Marathon Classic from July 23-26 in Sylvania, Ohio. If travel restrictions are relaxed and conditions are fine, Aditi might travel to US to play and maybe to Europe after that. But all those plans are dependant on how things shape up in the times of the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.
Meanwhile, professional golfers around the world are watching how things pan out in US, where the PGA tour resumes without fans on June 19. India’s Anirban Lahiri, currently in India, during the lockdown is also unsure when and how he will get back. But like Aditi, he is also assured of his playing rights for 2021 as the PGA Tour card has been extended by a season.