By Shikha Sreenivas
When the Women’s World Golf Rankings were updated on Monday, Aditi Ashok broke into the top 100. Now she is World No. 99, and the highest ranked Indian woman golfer since Simi Mehra, whose highest rank was No. 17 in 1998. Apart from Aditi, only five other women golfers share a world rank.
Last Saturday, Aditi Ashok tied at sixth place at the RACV Gold Coast Challenge, after a rough final day that saw her card three-over 76. And this is just her second year as a professional golfer.
If you’re a golf enthusiast, you probably already know who Aditi Ashok is. And if you aren’t, it’s definitely worth learning about the young 18-year-old who’s making serious strides in golf, as women’s golf continues to be a lonely road in India.
In the women’s golf tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics, she was among the early leaders. This was followed by two victories on the Ladies European Tour, which earned her top rookie honours for 2016. She was second in total earnings, with seven of the top-10 game finishes.
Golf is still an emerging sport in India, a little behind cricket, hockey, tennis and football, but it seems to be rising in popularity. No Indian has won an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour event, yet.
According to Sportskeeda, since so few women play the game in India, it has taken almost a decade for the Women’s Golf Association of India to grow to 30 members. Champika Sayal, secretary-general of the association, and Smriti Mehra helped establish a professional tour for Indian women.
She told The Guardian, that the first time she picked up golf was at five-years-old and she liked it immediately. “I liked the fact that golf was an individual sport. Each day was a different experience and that’s what kept me interested, as I never got bored with the game as a child.”
Golf has struggled to find a footing in India, one of the reasons being economics and accessibility. The second is that there aren’t enough number of courses. Ashok told The Guardian that she hopes this will change soon, and that there will be public facilities for golf so they can reach the masses.
Aditi is now the second Indian member of the LPGA and plans on playing at least six European Tour tournaments this year, and as many LPGA events as possible. There are seven other Indian women who competed in the recent Ladies European Tour in Morocco.