March 31: Aditi Ashok is just two days past her 23rd birthday, but this is already her fifth year on the Ladies PGA Tour besides which she has won three times on the Ladies European Tour.
At Rancho Mirage, California, US, when she tees off at noon on Thursday in the first round of the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first Major – men or women – she will equalling a landmark in Indian golf. She will be playing her 16th Major and equal Anirban Lahiri’s record of 16 Majors – the most by any Indian men or women’s player.
While it needs to be mentioned that women have five Majors as against four for men, Aditi has played at least one Major each year since she turned pro in 2016 and she became an LPGA member only in 2017. She has also made the cut at least once in each of the five Majors.
The lanky Aditi, who also loves writing besides golf, said from California, “I had to play my way in (into the ANA Inspiration) as I hadn’t played enough events last year. I’m excited to be back playing week after week and I feel like I’ve been playing well the last few weeks.”
She added, “Hopefully I can make this major count and capitalise on the fact that I’ve played the course four times (once at Q-School and three Majors). I am definitely trying to have a top finish at a major and not just make it to the weekend.”
This year in 2021, Aditi has played three LPGA events and made the cut in all three but has had only middling results. Her driving and hitting have been fine, as she found a good number of fairways and greens, but putting has been a concern. She finished T-44 at Kia Classic and three weeks before that she was -23 at Drive On Championships. While she made the cut in all three events, she failed to break 70 in each of the 12 rounds, though she did no worse than 74 in any. But she did take a lot of putts like 35 on first day at Kia.
She added, “Yeah putting was not my best (at Kia Classic) but it’s probably the change from Bermuda to Poa. Next (at ANA) I will probably work on short game and putting as that tends to help during majors.”
The last ANA was in September, the only time it has. been played in fall in the tournament’s half-century history. Brooke Henderson, Nelly Korda and Mirim Lee faced a lot of challenge not just from the opposition but also the heat and really thick rough. They battled each before Lee won with a birdie in the play-off. The course, the players say is firm, fast and in great shape,
One of the traditions of the ANA Inspiration is that the winner jumps into the Poppie’s Pond. The landmarks at Dinah Shore Course, include Poppie’s Pond, the Dinah statue and the Wall of Champions. Aditi will be looking to making a mark for herself and Indian golf, too, at the course.