Rio de Janeiro, Aug 20: India's teen golfer Aditi Ashok rounded off yet another week with a card of five-over 76 to end her campaign at the 41st spot in the women's golf event at Rio Olympics, here today (August 20).
Nine of the world's Top-10 took part in the event making it as strong as any Major and ensuring credibility for the sport, which made a re-appearance at the sporting extravaganza after 112 years.
For Bengaluru girl Aditi to hold her own on first two days when her cards of 68-68 kept her in the Top-8 of the field was indeed a big step for Indian golf at world stage.
After a brilliant first two days, Aditi was blown away by the wind on the third when she shot 79. On the final day, the Indian admitted to hitting a couple of bad drives and missing some putts during her 76 and for the first time in four days, she had no birdies and just three bogeys and one double bogey.
The 18-year-old, who turned professional only six months ago, finished the week at seven-over 291.
Gold for Inbee Park
Meanwhile, Inbee Park (66-66-70-66) with a total of 16-under 268 outclassed the field by seven strokes to become the first women's individual golf gold medallist since 1904.
Lydia Ko (69), the Kiwi of Korea origin, birdied three of the last five holes, including 18th to take silver at 11-under, while China's Shanshan Feng (69) at 10-under took the bronze.
Park, winner of seven Majors and 17 titles on LPGA and the youngest ever to make the Hall of Fame at 28, almost did not come because she has problems with ligament in injuries on her left thumb.
But because this could be her only shot at Olympics and the fact she does not know whether she will still be playing in four years time, prompted Inbee to play this week at Rio and she played brilliantly.
Nomura Harukyo shot a flawless six-under 65, American Stacy Lewis, a two-time Major winner, and Korean Yang Hee-Young were tied fourth at nine-under.
Aditi said, "The experience has been great staying at the Olympic Village and playing with the best in the world and I really enjoyed playing this golf course, too. It played different every day because of the wind and the conditions, but yeah, I enjoyed it.
"With my performance, you know, I could have done better, but you know, I'm going to build on this, and the next time I play bigger events, I'm sure this experience is going to help me," she added.
'I tried my best'
On the importance of the week for Indian golf, Aditi added, "I think it was important. Obviously I didn't play as well as I hoped, especially the last two days. But I'm sure there has been a lot of attention on me, so women's golf has become a bit popular. I'm hoping to see it grow in coming time."
Aditi said, "I tried my best. If I had done better, I'm sure I would have helped with creating greater visibility for golf. But I think going from here, the better I play, the more I'm still going to do that, even if I'm not going to be playing in the Olympics every other week. Yeah, I'm looking forward to using this experience and doing that."
Aditi now plans to have a shot at the LPGA, where she goes for the Qualifying. The only Indian to have played on LPGA before her has been Simi Mehra and when asked if that motivated her, she said, "Ever since I started golf, I've always wanted to be playing with the best in the world and competing at the highest level. Yeah, it's great that another Indian has done it before; it is kind of inspiring. I hope that I can go far and maybe go a little extra."
Aditi, just 18, has been getting a lot of exposure back home with her performance, especially on the first two days, when she was inside Top-10.
Asked if she knew about it, she said, "Quite a bit, yeah, on my Facebook page and Twitter has been going off quite a lot. I'm happy that a lot of people who didn't really watch golf are watching golf now. It's only going to get better from here."
On what would need to change in India for women's golf to grow further for fans, supporters and media, she added, "Well, I guess we need a lot more players in India, especially, and that will happen when juniors start to pick up the sport more. As long as we keep getting more girls every year playing good golf, I think that's going to help, especially with the local tour, and to get more beginners in India."