Gritty Vandana triumphs

The triumphant Vandana Aggarwal in action.-Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR


VANDANA AGGARWAL is a true sports lover. Playing competitive hockey, basketball and also participating in athletics in her school days, she turned to golf more than a decade ago. For all practical purposes the Kolkata amateur golfer felt she had had her days in the sun and was now participating in tournaments just to make up the numbers. Her elbow strapped to ease the pain of `tennis elbow' she slogged it out in the last leg of the Ladies Open Amateur tournament. But with the determination of a true competitor she went on to win the title in a cliffhanger of a game.

It was not the best of fields for the sixth and final leg of ladies tournament preceding the all-India title deciding round. Irina Brar, last year's winner, and Parnita Garewal, another top golfer, were absent from the line-up taking away the sheen from the tournament. However the top junior golfer Mayali Talwar was the one to be watched and she displayed fine potential. Others in the open category included Vandana Aggarwal, Shruthi Khanna and Anjali Chopra.

The ladies tournament also had a handicap event running concurrently along with a championship for the juniors. A veterans' category was scratched due to paucity of entries. The handicap event was split into three sections: gold (handicap 0-12), silver (13-24) and bronze (25 to 36). The scoring pattern in these sections was the gross score minus the players' handicaps and the net score decided the outcome of the championship.

There are still many sceptics who feel that ladies golf cannot reach very high standards. And with the submission of cards on all four days reflecting poor scores, the sceptics felt quite vindicated.

Last year's runner-up Anjali Chopra led the field on the first three days and her margin kept diminishing till she was just one stroke ahead on the penultimate day. Vandana Aggarwal, who concentrated more on playing a low round rather than get annoyed or frustrated, emerged as a solid threat going into the final day's play.

Vandana's morale was high on the final day and she started off well levelling the scores on the first hole itself. On the third hole Vandana was in the lead and after that she ensured that the contest did not slip away. Anjali, meanwhile, was unable to control her ire and kept making mistakes and compounding it by her tantrums. Ultimately Vandana pulled off a fine upset win taking the title by a one-stroke lead.

Karnataka Golf Association's Dhanalakshmi Rice won the silver division title and Mamatha Rao bagged the bronze division title. Vandana also won the gold division apart from the Open event.

In the juniors' section Mayali Talwar was a clear winner but Mysore's Bhawana Shetty played better on the final day to erase a two-stroke deficit and go on to topple Neha Majithia by one stroke for the runner-up slot.

The results:

South India Ladies Open: Vandana Aggarwal (80, 79, 78, 77) 314; 2. Anjali Chopra (77, 75, 84, 79) 315; 3. Mayali Talwar (81, 79, 82, 79) 321.

Juniors: Mayali Talwar (322), 2. Bhawana Shetty (342), 3. Neha Majithia (343).

Gold division: winner: Vandana Aggarwal, Silver division: winner: Dhanalakshmi Rice, Bronze division: winner: Mamatha Rao.

D. Ravi Shankar