India's Aditi Ashok gets birthday gift with entry into ANA Inspiration; joins Anirban Lahiri with most Major starts

Thrilled at playing her way into the ANA Inspiration, Aditi, the only Indian to have played at least one Major each year since she turned pro in 2016, will make her 16th start in a Major this week at Rancho Mirage, Mission Hills Country Club, California.

V Krishnaswamy March 29, 2021 18:16:14 IST
India's Aditi Ashok gets birthday gift with entry into ANA Inspiration; joins Anirban Lahiri with most Major starts

File image of golfer Aditi Ashok. Image: Instagram/AditiAshok

Aditi Ashok got a perfect birthday gift ahead of her 23rd birthday, which falls on Monday with an entry into the ANA Inspiration, the first of the five Majors in women’s golf. Aditi’s spot was confirmed soon after the Kia Classic.

Thrilled at playing her way into the ANA Inspiration, Aditi, the only Indian to have played at least one Major each year since she turned pro in 2016, will make her 16th start in a Major this week at Rancho Mirage, Mission Hills Country Club, California.

At 16 Major starts, Aditi will join fellow Bengalurean Anirban Lahiri as the Indian with most Major starts. However, women’s golf has five Majors, as against four for men.

Of her 15 previous starts, three have come at ANA Inspiration (2017, 2018, 2019), three at Evian Championships (2017, 2018, 2019), three at Women’s PGA (KPMG) (2017, 2018, 2019), two at US Women’s Open (2017, 2019) and four at Women’s British Open (2016, 2017, 2018, 2020).

Aditi’s best result at a Major has been T-22 at the AIG Women’s Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2018, but has had made cut at least once in all Majors.

Aditi was one of the eight players, not otherwise exempt, to get into the ANA field on the basis of their current CME Globe Points for LPGA Ranking.

The 23-year-old said, “I had to play my way in as I hadn’t played enough events last year. I’m excited to be back playing week after week and I feel like I’ve been playing well the last few weeks.”

She added, “Hopefully I can make this Major count and capitalise on the fact that I’ve played the course four times (once Q-School and three Majors) Definitely, I am trying to have a top finish at a major and not just make it to the weekend.”

Aditi, who has been driving well and finding the greens often, too, has however been found wanting on the greens. Once she adjusts to the greens, the scores will be better, she felt.

Admitting her putting needed some work, Aditi said, “Yeah, putting was not my best this week but it’s probably the change from Bermuda to Poa. Next week will probably work on short game and putting as that tends to help during majors.”

This week, Aditi finished at even par 288 and tied for 44th at the Kia Classic, her third event of 2021. Her previous two starts in 2021 were T23 at LPGA Drive On Championship and T48 at Gainbridge LPGA.

Lahiri played the last of his 16 Majors in 2018 at the PGA Championship. The next best Indian is Jeev Milkha Singh at 14.

The ANA Inspiration, one of the five Major championships of professional women’s golf, is held yearly at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

The tournament is not only is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of the event in 2021 but it has also returned to being the first Major of the year. In 2020, the ANA Inspiration was played in September and Aditi did not feature in it.

As with last year’s tournament, this edition will be going ahead without spectators due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

Previously known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the tournament was founded in 1972 by David Foster and Dinah Shore. It became a major championship in 1983, and has been played at the Mission Hills Country Club since its inception.

The purse for this year’s tournament is $3.1 million. The winner will again receive $465,000.

 

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