Amateur grabs shock lead in India
Last updated: 30th November 2012
Indian school girl Aditi Ashok shot a three-under-par 69 at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon on Friday to grab a three-way share of the first-round lead at the Women's Indian Open.
The 14-year-old amateur from Bangalore mixed five birdies with two bogeys to tie with experienced professionals Becky Brewerton of Wales and Italian Stefania Croce in the three-round tournament, which is tri-sanctioned by the Women's Golf Association of India (WGAI), Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and Ladies European Tour (LET).
Aged 14 years, eight months and one day, Ashok now has the chance to become the youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour. The LET's record holder is Amy Yang, who was 16 years old when she won the Australian Ladies Masters in 2006.
In January 2012, the world's media reported that New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko had become the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event, at the age of 14 years, nine months and five days, when she won the New South Wales Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour (ALPG).
However, Ashok won a professional championship on the Hero Women's Professional Golf Tour in India in August 2010, at the Clover Greens Golf Resort in Bengaluru, aged 13 years and five months. She won the 54-hole championship in a playoff against Smriti Mehra, a former LPGA player.
Speaking after her round, the willowy teenager, who practises for four hours a day after school, commented: "I won a professional event last year so I think that's given me some of the experience I needed to play well today.
"I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I have a good short game and it went well today. My approach shots were also good. I am happy to be there on top along with such experienced pros but I am not going to get ahead of myself. I know things can change very quickly."
Ashok also played in the tournament last year but missed the cut with rounds of 80 and 77. This year, she has prepared with an intensive training session in Malaysia.
"That's also helped me a lot because it's given more structure to my practice and the way I play. It's given me more confidence on long putts and my general game overall. I think areas I've improved are my bunker, my pitching and my long lag putting. I've always been an accurate hitter but not that long so I think distance will come with age," she added.
Croce, 42, a pro since 1989 has just one win, at the Ford Ladies Classic in 1992, while the 30-year-old Brewerton, a pro since 2003, has two official wins on the LET and one non-official.
The highlight of Brewerton's round was an eagle on the par-5 sixth and she was five under par after 15 holes but then dropped two shots in her last three.
"I'm happy and it's nice to be up there after round one," said the former Solheim Cup player. "A lot of rounds this year I've struggled so it's nice to be up there again."
Brewerton explained: "I started off pretty average, parred the first few and then I eagled six, the par five, got on in two and made quite a long putt there, so obviously that kicked me on a bit. I hit a driver and then a rescue into the green, then holed a 40 feet putt.
"On the back nine I started to play really well and got on to a good birdie run, I think 12, 14, 15, which was good. I hit the wrong club on 16, hit it over the green, so a bit of a mistake, I could have hit one less but the water at the front makes you go more past the pin and I had a terrible lie so I didn't have much chance of getting up and down there.
"Then on 18 I decided to go for it because I felt like I had the shot but I just came out of it a bit and didn't carry the water. If I'm there tomorrow I'll go for it again."
Brewerton is making a recovery from a nasty fall off a bicycle at the start of the season.
"At the start of the year I was practising before Australia and I had a really bad accident, I fell off my bike. I was going down some terrain quite quickly and I hit something in the road and absolutely came flying, in Spain. I landed on my hip on the edge of the kerb and I've still got a big dent in there now actually. It's okay but I think that really knocked me."
Croce's round started with four birdies on the back nine followed by a fifth birdie at the first before she dropped shots at the fifth and eighth holes.
Croce was unsure whether she would tee up in the tournament after suffering from a fever earlier in the week and said: "I was sick and I was in bed Monday, Tuesday, then Wednesday I came here and walked the course. This is my first time in India. I like it and I love the course. I think the greens are fast."
Six players are a shot back in fourth spot on two under par: Thailand's Jaruporn Palakawong, Australians Stacey Keating and Bree Arthur, Wales's Becky Morgan, England's Florentyna Parker and Liebelei Lawrence of Luxembourg.
Meanwhile, former event champions Pornanong Phatlum (2008 and 2009) Laura Davies (2010) and Caroline Hedwall (2011) finished with level par, one-under and four-over-par rounds respectively.
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