Jesus by her side, the impression was nothing could go wrong for Aditi Ashok. It could have though, had her third shot on the 18th not rolled back from the edge of the bunker on to the green.
The ball settling less than four feet from the flag, it took a tap from the 18-year-old to seal her first professional win on Sunday by one shot. That it came at the Hero Women’s Indian Open made it sweeter.
That lucky break on the final hole was critical in her being anointed the first Indian to win on the Ladies European Tour (LET). Then, there was counsel from her man on the bag. Jesus Mozo asked her to stay patient as she missed a few birdie putts on the front nine. Not one to be ruffled easily, the pressure of being in contention was evident.
A caddie’s job needs him to be loyal, but it was hard for Jesus as his sister, Belen, was in the leader group. When the final putt went in, the Spaniard, true to his vocation, first congratulated Aditi, and was the last to acknowledge his sister, for finishing tied second, during the customary exchange after the round.
For Aditi, the result buttressed what she’s believed through her rookie season. “It was about playing solid through the week,” she said. The indication was to the inability to piece together rounds coming into this week at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
It hurt her, as she slipped at the Rio Olympics after contending at the beginning. The problem remained on rejoining competition at the LET, but she still managed four consecutive top-10 finishes.
With a penchant for lucky charms, Friday’s ‘Halloween’ ball marker on the cap had made way for the ‘Penguin’. So, the lifeline on the 18th was hugely appreciated. “I was aiming for the flag but pulled it left. Luckily, the ball rolled back. Guess the course made it up to me,” said Aditi on the opportunities missed earlier in the day.
Sunday will take time to sink in, “probably tomorrow or when I get home”, but she will have little time to ponder as she’s off to Doha. Then, it will be Florida for the final stage of qualifying school. A card on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) could be hers and with it the chance to compete at the highest level.