India’s Aditi Ashok finished 15 under par with a total score of 269 at the end of the fourth and final round of the golf women’s individual stroke play event at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, missing out on a first ever Olympic medal for India in golf. Diksha Dagar, India’s other entrant in the competition, finished tied 50th.
Ashok was in medal contention till the 17th hole, when a birdie from Lydia Ko broke a tie for third place and pushed the Indian down to fourth. Ashok could only hit par on the 17th. On the final hole, the 18th, both Ko and Ashok hit par, which meant the one stroke margin left the Indian out of medal contention.
The gold medal was won by 23-year-old Nelly Korda of U.S., the current World No. 1 adding Olympic gold to her resume in a year in which she also won her first major. The silver medal was won by World No. 28 Mone Inami of Japan, while World No. 11 Lydia Ko of New Zealand took bronze. Inami and Ko participated in a playoff to determine their medals after both finished tied second. Despite missing out on a medal, Ashok, ranked 200 in the world, put in an impressive performance, finishing in the top three in the previous three rounds and staying in contention right till the end. She had finished 41st on her Olympic debut in Rio in 2016.
India’s medals tally at the Games stands at five, with silver for weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and wrestler Ravi Dahiya, and bronze for badminton player PV Sindhu, boxer Lovlina Borgohain and the men’s hockey team. India could still equal, and even exceed, their best ever tally of six medals at the 2012 London Games, with wrestler Bajrang Punia in contention for bronze and Neeraj Chopra in the men’s javelin throw final later on Saturday.
In Saturday’s fourth round, which began early to squeeze in play before the arrival of an impending tropical storm, Korda continued to hold the lead while several players fought for second position. Ashok even dropped to fourth after missing a putt about midway through Saturday’s proceedings before she regained her position in the top three. Bogeys on the ninth and 11th holes of the round, however, caused the Indian to slip out of the medal spots into fourth place. On the first of the final three holes, though, New Zealand’s Ko hit a bogey, allowing Ashok back into a tie for third place. The wind then began to pick up and before Ko’s next shot, the horn went off for the storm and players were forced off the course due to a risk of lightning.
On resumption of play after a break of about 45 minutes for the final two holes, Ko missed a putt for eagle but then made a simple birdie putt. Ashok then missed her birdie putt by inches to drop back into fourth place. The Indian was left requiring a mistake from Ko to get back into the bronze place. Ko, meanwhile, was tied for second towards the end with Japan’s Inami, who had done well in the final round to displace Korda in first place before a bogey on her final hole cost her the first place.
In contrast to her overall consistency to stay near the top of the leaderboard, Ashok’s driving distance this week was close to the bottom of the 60-player field. After Friday’s play, Ashok revealed she had tested positive for COVID-19 in May and June on a visit to India. In addition to forcing her to miss a couple of competitions, Ashok said the virus also took a toll on her strength levels. She did add, however, that this year has been among the best she’s had in her short game, making up for the lack of length on her driving.
After her Games debut five years ago, Ashok has had considerable success on the Ladies European Tour (LET), winning three titles between 2016 and 2017, and then has been an LPGA regular since. Earlier this year, she competed in her 18th career major at the Evian Championship, taking her two clear of Anirban Lahiri, the previous record-holder for India.