Aditi Ashok turned in her best round of 2018. She made six birdies and signed for a 4-under, 68 on Sunday at the Founders Cup.
She’s clearly becoming more comfortable playing on the LPGA.
“I really enjoyed last year even though it was a lot more travel than I was used to,” Ashok told LPGA.com after her round. “I had a lot of weeks in a row last year and I think that bogged me down a bit. This year is better because I can plan my schedule, which is great because playing on the LPGA has been a dream since I was a little kid and I’m doing it now.”
Aditi, the only player from India on the LPGA, made 21 starts last year and tallied one top 10 and six top 30 results.
She said knowing the courses and having familiarity with the areas will pay major dividends this year.
“I feel girls who have played events for years (on the same venue) have a little more comfort,” explained the 19-year-old. “They get there and they know the set up and the pins and they can kind of relax.”
Aditi recalled playing sometimes as many as six rounds in a week last year just to get comfortable on a brand new course.
In the offseason, Ashok went home for about eight weeks – which is her longest stretch at home in three years - and put an emphasis on fitness.
“It’s not that I didn’t work on fitness in the past, it’s just that I actually had an offseason so I had time,” explained Ashok, who didn’t have to go to Qualifying School in December. “I worked on getting stronger and I saw progress in those seven or eight weeks.”
Aditi said she is hitting it a “a bit” longer than she was at this point last year.
The other difference fans may notice is they’ll see her father, Ashok Gudlamani, as her caddy more often. Last year, she had a few different Tour caddies while dad was on the bag just twice. This year, he’ll be closer to full-time, at least for now.
“I’m more comfortable with him and I’ve won a couple tournaments with him on my bag,” said Ashok, who has won two of her three LET titles with her dad. “He travelled with me a lot last year and saw all the courses so his input is valuable so I might stick with that."
Aditi plans on playing everything from now through the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic. With a break in the schedule in early May, she’ll head back to India and then decide when to return to the LPGA.
She’ll also still play some on the Ladies European Tour. This past November, she won her third LET title and will defend in Abu Dhabi and will also of course play in India.
While the buzz she created two years ago has waned a bit in the U.S. and India, the spotlight still shines on her in the golfing world in India.
“The impact the Olympics had was huge, I’m not sure if anything will come close to that, maybe if I win a tournament (on the LPGA),” said Ashok. “Nobody had heard of golf until the Olympics and everyone suddenly turned their heads towards golf. You don’t see growth yet, but I think over the next two or three years you will.”
A win or consistent strong play on the LPGA would go a long way in continuing the positive momentum of golf in India.
She took a step in the right direction this week in Phoenix.