Pranavi eyes Asian Games glory, sets sight on LPGA
The Hindustan Times sat with Indian golfer Pranavi Urs, who recently qualified for the Asian Games.
In 2022, Pranavi Urs had just been making a comeback to golf after a stress fracture. She performed strongly, winning two titles at the start of the year but faced another setback at the Asian Games trials, when she endured a muscle tear and was forced to withdraw. The hopes for an Asian Games appearance seemed over for then 19-year-old Mysuru pro, but fate had other plans.
The Games, scheduled in Hangzhou in August-September 2021, were postponed due to rising cases of Covid-19 in China and last month, Pranavi Urs finally stood joint-top in the qualifiers for the coveted continental games, joining fellow pros Aditi Ashok and Avani Prashanth at the Games. "I don't think it has sunk in yet. Asian Games mean a lot to me, I obviously played trials before as well, couldn't make it because I faced an injury. I really couldn't play too many tournaments. Playing the trials in itself was something I want to do, and to finish at the top makes me really happy," Urs tells Hindustan Times.
Pranavi was five-and-a-half years old when she began playing golf, and spent a majority of her formative years looking upto her idol, Aditi Ashok. Now, she is set to present the Indian challenge alongside her.
"The golf course in Mysuru is with the race course. I used to go with my father and brother to watch the horses run. I happened to play the South Zone Junior Tournament at the age of 7, and I won. That motivated me, and my father thought I was pretty good at golf. In terms of inspiration, Aditi Ashok has been an idol. I really I look up to her," says Pranavi.
“When I was 15, Dream Foundation reached out through GoSports and they really helped me transform from an amateur to professional - helping me with my nutritionist, my strength and conditioning. The more sponsors reach out to different juniors, that’ll be very helpful.”
When asked if Pranavi has conversations with Aditi -- who already participates in the LPGA Tour -- she said, "I just see her once a year during the Indian Open. I had a chat with her and her dad. They pretty much told me what the experience is, living out of a suitcase and travelling week after week, and all the challenges. I'm mentally prepared that it's not going to be easy but I'm really excited."
Last year, after the heartbreak at the Asian Games qualifier, Pranavi returned to take part in the LGPA Tour Qualifying School, successfully qualifying for Stage 2. But right before she could beginn her charge for the second stage, Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in and around the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Florida.
"I would definitely say it wasn't the easiest. The team motivated me a lot. It makes an athlete's life easier, they're a good support system. I played the India women's open (when the stage 2 was postponed). But there too, I had to withdraw because of the back injury. But it was a good experience," says Pranavi.
But the young Indian golfer was satisfied with her performance at the Stage 1.
"Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't played professional golf until then, I hhad played Junior Golf. I had been in good form, though. Just to play out there and finish T36 out of some 300+ players showed me where I stood among some of the best in the world," Pranavi says.
This year, Pranavi travelled to South Africa before the Asian Games qualifiers where she took part in Joburg Ladies Open, and eventually the Investec South African Open. She insisted that it was like stepping out of the comfort zone, primarily because of the big change in conditions.
"Playing six weeks in a row is a challenge. It is draining mentally and physically. You've to step out of your comfort zone, I had played in India for so long, I'm comfortable playing here. So, it was a rusty start but eventually, I did settle in and I had pretty good finishes. Speaking about the wind, it was the windiest condition I had ever played in. It was about 70-75 kmph, but playing week after week against some of the best in the world was a good experience," Pranavi recalls.
This year, Pranavi will make another attempt to get into the LGPA Tour. Of course, getting a medal at Asian Games also remains a priority.
"To obviously try and get into the LPGA Tour. I'm also playing LET events in Europe, late June and first week of July. I aim to finish in top-10 and improve my world ranking. Now that I've qualified for Asian Games, I want to win a medal and stand alongside Aditi and Avani," says the 19-year-old golfer.