It almost looked like Aditi Ashok wouldn’t play in this week’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards. The 24-year-old’s clubs were lost in transit as she traveled from Paris to Las Vegas after playing in the LET’s Jabra Ladies Open presented by Bitstamp. Miraculously, they arrived in Nevada on Tuesday morning with just enough time for Ashok to get nine holes in during the pro-am. It turned out to be plenty of practice as Ashok handily defeated LPGA Tour winner and Solheim Cup team member Lizette Salas, 3 and 1, on day one of group play.
“As long as they were going to be there by tournament day, I was fine,” said Ashok of her missing clubs. “I didn't have any anxiety about not having to play a practice round with them. As a pro, you just get used to making a game plan and sticking to it. I had one pro-am day of nine holes so I just accepted that that's all I was going to get on the course and made do with it. Lizette is a great player and I enjoyed the match today. I feel like I started really solid, didn't make many mistakes, and I made a couple of birdies, which was good. That kind of got me the momentum. I feel like the momentum I had in the beginning of the round carried me basically to a win.”
Ashok’s maturity has always belied her tender years and it again showed itself on Wednesday at Shadow Creek. The Indian superstar made two early pars to go 2 up over Salas and then held her ground as the two traded punches on holes 5 through 10. Salas got a shot back with a par on No. 15 but conceded the match on the 17th when Ashok made par on the notoriously tricky par 3. Now having seen more of the golf course – namely the front nine which she played for the first time today – and knowing what to expect around the challenging Tom Fazio design, Ashok feels much more prepared for her match against standout LPGA Tour rookie Hye-Jin Choi, one that’s sure to be a tough test for both competitors.
“I didn't really know much about (Shadow Creek),” Ashok said. “I just knew about the match that happened here, Tiger and Phil. Apart from that, I didn't know much about it. I really like the golf course. It's in great condition. Because it's a desert, you never really know how the grass or the rough is going to be, but the rough is really demanding, especially around the greens. You don't expect it to be that grabby or sticky in such dry weather, but it is. I think it's a really good golf course and I'm excited to play tomorrow and the next days.”