Aditi Ashok wins Indian Open, creates history

Aditi Ashok won the Indian Open title, becoming the first Indian to win a professional title on the Ladies European Tour.

Aditi Ashok fought off Belen Mozo of Spain in a neck-and-neck battle to clinch Women's Indian Open title.   -  Special Arrangement

Aditi Ashok's productive outing in her maiden year as a professional golfer continued on Sunday as she reinforced her credentials as one of the best in India by winning the USD 400,000 Indian Open, becoming the first to not just lift the title at home but also the first Indian woman to win on the Ladies European Tour.

> Read: Unflappable Aditi makes rapid strides

The 18-year old overnight leader from Bangalore birdied the final hole to pull ahead of group mate Spaniard Belen Mozo by one stroke for the title. Aditi kept her scores even on the front nine but a topsy-turvy outing on the back saw her exchanging lead with Belen as the two headed to playoff before the Indian got lucky. The title, that comes with a winner's purse of $60,000, also helped Aditi leapfrog to the top of the LET's Rookie of the Year rankings.

Thailand's Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul stayed in contention till the 12th but dropped shots twice after that even as World No. 34 Brittany Lincicome had a bogey-free final round to end the day with three-under 69 for a tied second spot. But for major part, it was a toss-up between Belen and Aditi. Interestingly, Belen's brother Jesus was carrying the bag for Aditi here.

“It feels good. I have been playing good all year, I have had four top-ten finishes but somehow I was never able to get all my good rounds together. I managed to do that here,” a beaming Aditi said. “I have had a few good finishes in the Indian Open so to finally get the job done, it feels good, specially to win it in front of home crowd. This is the 10th Indian Open so you can see how long it's been,” she added.

Close battle

It had been too close to call through the day as Belen and Aditi stayed level. The Spaniard birdied the 8th and 9th holes to go on top before Aditi came back with one of her own on the 19th. Belen then saved a par on the 11th after hitting her approach shot into the bunker and birdied the 12th. Aditi dropped a shot on the 17th but was lucky to see Belen do the same.

It was her third shot on the 18th hole that changed things in Aditi's favour. It looked like going into the bunker but hit the upslope, rolling down to within four feet to the left of the hole. It could have still been a playoff but a cautious Belen left her birdie putt just a wee bit short, allowing Aditi to make the birdie and history.

Her previous personal best in the competition was a tied-eighth finish as an amateur in 2012. The closest an Indian had come before this was Vaishavi Sinha, who had to settle for a tied-fifth spot after a meltdown on the final hole (at the Delhi Golf Club) while in contention for the title two years back. This time, however, there was to be no repeat as the tournament finally got a home winner in its 10th edition.

Leading scores (Indians unless specified):

213: Aditi Ashok (72, 69, 72); 214: Belen Mozo (Esp, 73, 70, 71), Brittany Lincicome (USA, 75, 70, 69); 215: Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul (Tha, 72, 72, 71); 216: Florentyna Parker (Eng, 70, 76, 70); 217: Beth Allen (USA, 75, 74, 68), Alexandra Vilatte Farret (79, 69, 69), Anne-Lise Caudal (Fra, 70, 74, 73); 218: Kiran Matharu (Eng, 71, 73, 74), Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den, 71, 72, 75).