Ace Indian golfer Aditi Ashok, who missed an Olympic medal by a single stroke in Tokyo last week, will have to put the disappointment behind her and start afresh at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at the Dumbarnie Links on Thursday. The 23-year-old Bengalurean spoke to TOI on the eve of the $1.5 million LPGA and LET cosanctioned event.
What did the Olympic experience teach you that’s different from anything you might have picked up on the Tour?
It’s more about playing on such a big stage. I have been in the top-5, top-10 on the LPGA and I have won on the LET and nothing has such a big following or atmosphere. There are so many things riding on your performance. Playing on such a big stage and in that kind of position, trying to contend with the best golfers in the world, that was a new experience. I can’t tell what I learnt from it, but it was definitely a first and that has given me confidence in my game.
With so little turnaround time between tournaments, how much of a challenge is it to process what happened in Tokyo?
It’s a bit of a challenge because of the ripple effect that the performance had. It’s not like we finished the tournament on Sunday, and you can start fresh on Monday. This was a completely different situation in the sense that, even though I finished fourth, so many people were watching on the final day, so many people covered it, big personalities like the President and Prime Minister even tweeted on social media. So, the effect was so huge that it lingers a couple of days longer than a regular tournament would. And this, with me just narrowly missing winning a medal. It is a challenge to get over it. Now, my mindset is that I’m back on the Tour and last week is last week, and now I am back and trying to get a better position, better ranking points for the CME and this is only the second event that will count for both LET and the LPGA. That’s another bonus where I play well, and it counts on both the Tours. I am back to thinking about what this week means and not thinking about last week.
Aditi Ashok (PTI Photo)
Would you say that lack of length off the tee puts more pressure on your strength, the short game?
Yes. The closer you hit to the hole is always a big factor in making birdies. Hitting hybrids into 5-6 greens every day itself puts you under pressure. You are looking at not birdieing those 5-6 holes and you are looking at not dropping a shot. Yeah, the short game does come into a bit of stress. It doesn’t mean I am wasting shots trying to save par, but it’s just difficult to create birdie chances.
Also because of Covid, I don’t think anything else has ever affected me physically this much. But when I got back on the LPGA, the first couple of events back, I could feel the difference in strength, and difference in yardages as well. This was more specific to Covid.
With the increase in expectations after your Tokyo performance, will it put more pressure on you to meet them?
Not really, I have my own goals and Iknow what it takes game-wise to contend at different levels of tournaments. I still have personal goals and things that I want to achieve, whether it is with my physical fitness or with golf or my driving, because I obviously have been struggling with losing some yardage with my drives so with all that, in terms of the game, expectations don’t matter. Because I have a good feel of where my game is at and I know what needs to be worked on to contend on the LPGA and what it takes to win on the LPGA. But I guess it does bring in a lot more expectations for Paris. Finishing 41st in Rio, nobody was expecting much out of me in Tokyo, but now I’m going to the next Olympics having finished fourth the previous time. I guess the next time the Olympics comes around, there would definitely be a lot more expectations and I have to find out how to deal with those.