Minjee Lee, Aditi Ashok and Tvesa Malik. Pics: Tristan Jones/ LET
Dubai, Nov 7: Aditi Ashok carded a stunning 8-under 64 to rise from overnight T-17 and finish T-6 at the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic under the lights at the Emirates Golf Club. It was her second best result of 2020 after her T-4 in the NSW Open in January.
In eight events this year she has made the cut in four and had two Top-10s.
The 64 was also Aditi’s best in a main event since turning pro, though she pointed out she had 62 (-10) in the third round of the LET Q-School which she won in December 2015. She also had a 63 (-9) in the 18-hole British Open qualifier in July 2016.
Tvesa Malik, a late entrant into the event, finally found her rhythm after 75-75 in the first two rounds. She shot 69 and rose to finish T-27 but it was a rough day for Diksha Dagar (83) as she dropped to T-48. Astha Madan (77) finished T-52. Tvesa had four birdies against one bogey.
Meanwhile, Minjee Lee (69) holed a massive putt to beat Celine Boutier (68) in a play-off after both players were tied at 10-under. Overnight leader, Caroline Hedwall (72) ended in a tie for third at 9-under.
Happy with her fine showing, Aditi said, “I played good all week and the game kept getting better. Going into the final round I was just thinking of making the most of it and try to get a birdie chance on every hole. I like playing in Dubai and it was nice to have a good finish here again. Looking forward to next week (in Saudi).”
Talking off the long gap and possible rust because of her last event (in August) and this one, she added, “Yes a little bit (rust) for sure. But glad I was finally able to put together a good round on the final day.”
Starting the week with a round of 75, her first competitive round since the last week of August, Aditi made amends with a 3-under 69 in the second round. On Friday in the final round she blazed the course under the lights with seven birdies and an eagle against just one bogey.
Minjee, who was 9-under after 15 holes birdied par-5 16th to get to 10-under, and at that very hole, five minutes, Boutier, then 11-under dropped a shot after hitting her second shot into the penalty area. That tied both at 10-under and they parred the last two holes to force a play-off.
Minjee sank a monster of a putt for birdie from almost 25 feet, after Boutier putted to within two feet from more than 30 feet.
As overnight leader Caroline Hedwall struggled on the front nine in 3-over 39, Boutier took over the lead early, but that late bogey ruined her day.
Hedwall (72) ended T-3 alongside Laura Fuenfstueck (70), Nuria Iturrioz (67). Meghan MacLaren (72), who was lying at the end of the second round, ended T-6 with Aditi.
All groups with the exception of the lead trio of Hedwall, Lee and MacLaren, starting at the same time, Aditi teed off on the 13th. Aditi, a three-time winner on the LET – twice in the gulf in Abu Dhabi and Qatar and one at home in Hero Women’s Indian Open – opened with a birdie on 13th. She followed up with an eagle on Par-5 16th . On the very next hole, the 17th, she dropped her only shot of the day.
After parring first and second, she was on fire with five birdies in next holes. She birdied third, fourth, fifth and sixth and again on eighth. At 7-under for the day and the tournament and with four holes left, she looked getting closer to leader Boutier, who at that time was 11-under.
However, birdies dried up over the next three holes despite some great attempts, but she did end with a birdie on 12th, her final hole of the tournament.
Minjee speaking of her 20-25 footer in the play-off, said, “I couldn’t really see the break too well on the last hole, but I thought it would be about two cups outside the right and luckily I hit it hard enough and it dropped. It feels pretty special to be here playing at night-time and the course has been amazing. It’s been a really fun week.”
The day’s best card came from Kylie Henry, who carded 9-under 63 and rose from T-31 overnight to T-10 in the company of Lydia Ko (72).
Boutier, who was flawless for most of the day, held the lead for most of the final round but faltered with a costly bogey on the 16th to open the door for Minjee to tie the lead with two to play with a birdie.
Going right to the wire, Hedwall and Iturrioz both had putts to force their way into the playoff, but it wasn’t to be, as Lee and Boutier headed for sudden death.
All four Indian girls are now scheduled to play in the One million Euro Aramco Saudi Ladies International, the first-ever women’s professional event in Saudi Arabia.
(Updated at 11.45 am on 07-11-2020)