India just missed a chance to clinch its sixth medal in Tokyo 2020, which could’ve equalled its best-ever Olympic performance at par with that of London 2012. Right from the first round held on August 4 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, India’s Aditi Ashok had been a top feature in the leaderboard. In the first round, Aditi took 67 shots to enter all the 18 holes, the PAR of which was set at 71. With a finish of four under, Aditi, to the utter surprise of everyone, finished the first round at second position, behind only Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom. She was tied at the second place with the USA’s Nelly Korda, who happens to be the current world no.1. She leapt ahead of defending champions Inbee Park and Rio 2016 first and second runners’ up, Lydia Ko and Shanshan Feng, respectively.
The 200 ranked Indian golfer returned for the second round on August 5, rolling in five birdies, which included three in her last four holes, in hole numbers 15, 17 and 18. Aditi finished the second round on five under par at 66, to consolidate her second position behind Nelly Korda.
Korda who, at one point, was looking set to register a historic sub-60 score in PAR 71, ended up with a round score of 9 under PAR 62 and topped the leaderboard with an overall score of thirteen under PAR. Ashok was tied for the second spot with Denmark’s N Madsen who, after an amazing recovery from her first-round score of only 2 under PAR, came stronger in the second round to score 7 under PAR to finish the second round with an overall score of 9 under PAR. Madsen’s compatriot Pedersen improved her first-round score of a mere 1 under PAR to a second-round total of 8 under PAR, to tie up for the second spot.
For the third round on August 6, Aditi compensated for her two bogeys with five birdies to consolidate her second position with an overall score of 12 under PAR. The third wasn’t satisfactory for Nelly Korda, who returned with a score of only 2 under PAR, to end the third round with a total of -15, still good enough to maintain her three-point lead over Ashok. Four players – New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (66), Australia’s Hannah Green (67), Demark’s Kristine Pederson (70) and Japan’s Mone Inami (68) – shared the third spot with totals of 10-under 203.
For the fourth and final round of the event, Aditi, with 18 holes distancing her from a dream medal, soon slipped to the third spot after her first four holes. However, having already established her recovering abilities, Aditi climbed up to the joint second spot after consecutive birdies on the 5th and the 6th hole. With a ‘birdie’ on the 8th hole, Aditi even reached the pinnacle for once, tied with Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko. However, a bogey on the ninth pulled her down to the third spot.
With PAR, bogeys and birdies on her card, Aditi stayed in contention all throughout, until the 15th hole where she was pushed down to the fourth position. Japan’s Mone Iname had risen up the ranks to throw her hat in the ring.
Slipping off to the fourth position, Aditi soon reclaimed the podium stand at the cost of a bogey from the third-placed Lydia Ko on her 16th hole. Lydia went one over PAR to add a point to her existing score of -16. With Aditi putting in at PAR, both the golfers were tied for the third spot at 15 under PAR. With the strokes thus reaching its business end, Aditi took a route off the fairway to land up to her first shot of the 16th hole in the roughs.
Against that, Lydia Ko’s first shot landed on a spot in the green good enough for her to go for an ‘eagle’ or at least a ‘birdie’, just when play for the day was interrupted due to poor weather. As play resumed, Inami Mone took a ‘birdie’ on the 17th hole to climb up to the joint top spot with Korda at 17 under. Aditi chipped her second shot from the roughs to a comparable distance from the pin and failed her ‘birdie’ shot by just a centimetre.
Par wasn’t enough for her to stay in the podium run as Lydia, on the other hand, after missing her ‘eagle’ putt, scored a ‘birdie’ to go ahead of Aditi. On the 18th hole, Mone managed to score only a ‘bogey’, ending her round with 16 under par. Nelly, Lydia and Aditi all missed their ‘birdie’ chances and ended up scoring a par each, finishing with -17, -16 and -15, respectively. With that, Aditi finished 4th, missing on a medal by just one stroke. The par shot ensured gold for the USA’s Nelly Korda, whereas Mone and Ko were pushed to the sudden death round to choose one for the silver.
The other golfer from India, Diksha Dagar, finished joint 50th.