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In our 1.3 billion-strong country, the craze for all sort of sports is catching fire. In the beginning of 21 century, the awareness for various sports and hype around a sportsperson was not so high. Now, there is a dramatic growth in the arena of world sports.

Earlier, the only sport that was revered was cricket. Now, various sports such as kabaddi, wrestling, soccer, hockey, lawn tennis, etc are seeing rising popularity; and one such sport is golf. Although it too is a male dominated area Aditi Ashok has come out with flying colors and built a reputation for herself in the last few years.

Born in 1998 in Bangalore, Aditi started playing golf at the young age of five. Soon, she realized that this was the goal in her life, she wanted to play golf as a professional. She joined Karnataka Golf Association where she was trained by Steven Giuliano, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At the age of nine, she played her debut tournament in Karnataka Golf Club. Her father Pandit Gudlamani Ashok encouraged her a lot and helped her grow as a golfer. He also serves as Aditi’s caddie.

This right-handed player turned a pro on January 1, 2016. She won many amateur tournaments before she turned a success. Aditi became the youngest and first Indian to win the Lalla Aicha Tour School and secured her Ladies European Tour card for the 2016 season. This win also made her the youngest winner of a Q School for an international tour.

She is the first and the only Indian golfer who played the Asian Youth Games (2013), Youth Olympic Games (2014), Asian Games (2014) and Olympic Games (2016).

Aditi won the 2016 Hero Women’s Indian Open with a score of 3-under-par 213, and in the process became the first Indian to win a Ladies European Tour title. She picked up a second win two weeks later at the Qatar Ladies Open and finished the season second on the Order of Merit. She won the Rookie of the Year award. She also gained a LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour card for 2017 via the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.

“I have had some good finishes in the Indian Open but to get the job done finally feels really good and especially finishing victorious in front of my home crowd is a really good feeling.”

Aditi was the only woman golfer representing India at Rio in 2016 when the sport made its return to Olympics after 112 years. Aditi qualified on the basis of Olympic criteria of players being eligible on world ranking. According to the criteria, a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15 are selected.

In 2011, Aditi had won USHA Karnataka Junior, Southern India Junior, Faldo Series Asia-India, East India Tolly Ladies, All India Championship and in 2012 she took away USHA Delhi Ladies, USHA Army Championship, All India Junior. While 2013 saw Aditi clinching Asia Pacific Junior Championship and in 2014 it was Eastern India Ladies Amateur, USHA IGU All India Ladies & Girls Championship. The 2015 year increased that tally of tournament wins as amateur as she won Army Ladies & Junior Championship, St Rule Trophy, Southern India Ladies & Junior Girls Championship, Ladies’ British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, and Thailand Amateur Open. In 2011 she got Hero Professional Tour Leg 1, Hero Professional Tour Leg 3.

“It feels good to win the championship, I was playing good all year, I had four top 10 finishes. I had a good front nine but made a few mistakes on the back nine, but overall it was good,” Aditi said.

She has set a record in 2012 and 2014, by representing India in Espirito Santo Trophy.

Aditi has chosen a not-so-famous-sport in India and is adding stars to its reputation. There is a lot she still has to learn and teach. Her inclination towards the sport is contagious and has made her grow as a sportsperson. At such a young age Aditi has already set milestones and has proved if you believe in your dreams one day they come out to be true.