Indian teenager Aditi Ashok earned her third Ladies European Tour title in 12 months after a tense finish to the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.
The 19-year-old from Bangalore began the final day at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club with a two-stroke lead and seemed to be in cruise control for most of the round.
She made a nervy start with a bogey on the fifth hole, but bounced back with six birdies in her next 11 holes to open a four-stroke advantage with three holes to play.
Then, from nowhere, she four-putted at the par-3 17th reducing her lead to just one stroke over Georgia Hall.
She watched from the tee as the Englishwoman made a par four on the difficult 18th and then stepped up to make her own par under extreme pressure, playing a perfect approach shot up to the green over water on the closing hole.
Explaining her aberration on the 17th, Aditi said: “It wasn’t really nerves, I think I just lapsed for a bit and made a four-putt. I was playing okay all day, but didn’t make as many birdie putts as I wanted to. I’m just glad I came out on top. I had my game plan and wasn’t too aggressive. I just kept giving myself birdie putts and that was the plan on 17 as well. I don’t know how I ended up four-putting and I did the same on 18, gave myself a birdie putt and it didn’t go in, so I guess that was the story of my putting today, but the birdies in the middle helped.”
With rounds of 67, 66, 68 and 69, and a winning score of 18-under-par, the second-year professional golfer finished a stroke ahead of Hall and took home a first prize cheque for €70,788.
Hall finished as the bridesmaid for the second successive year, her final round of 66 being the joint best score of the day.
She said afterwards: “I’m a little bit disappointed because I thought I needed an eight-under today and I was ticking the shots off in my head. I hit the ball great all week, but I putted poorly and didn’t hole anything today. All my birdie chances were inside 10 feet. Aditi played great again and managed to get a par on the last, so well done to her.
“I played one of the best long games I have played all year but the putts weren’t going in and I was in between clubs on the last hole and went for the longer one. Maybe a bit of adrenaline went through me and I hit it too long but I made a good up and down. As far as I knew, I thought Aditi was 20-under so I was three behind going down the last, so I didn’t think I had a chance. If I had known, then maybe things would have been different.”
Camilla Lennarth, who had fellow Swede Sophie Gustafson on her bag for the first time, finished a stroke further back in outright third place on 16-under, having birdied three of the last four holes, with Cheyenne Woods of the United States in fourth and Linda Wessberg in fifth. Ellie Givens, who had played in the final group, tied for 11th place and Lee-Anne Pace, who had led for the first two rounds, shared 27th place.
It was Aditi Ashok who was handed the trophy by the UAE’s Minister of State for Happiness, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi and the rising Indian star was finally able to smile.
It was her third LET title, following her previous back-to-back wins at the Hero Women’s Indian Open and Qatar Ladies Open in her rookie season in 2016.
She will look to emulate that feat next week when she heads to her home country to begin her defence of the Hero Women’s Indian Open, starting on Friday at DLF Golf Club in Gurgaon
photos Janos Schmidt
photos Janos Schmidt