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Diksha, Aditi lead Indian charge as 13th Hero Women's Indian Open tees off on Thursday

Press Trust of India  |  Gurugram 

Young golfers Diksha Dagar and Aditi Ashok will look to put their best foot forward when they spearhead the Indian challenge at the 13th Hero Women's Indian Open which tees off here on Thursday.

The 18-year-old Diksha emerged as the only Indian winner this season when she grabbed the Investec South African Open. She also has a Top-10 and three other Top-20 finishes this year.

Interestingly, Diksha, a rookie who scored her maiden win in only her fourth LET start, is playing her first HWIO as a professional after three previous starts as an amateur.

"It is going to be exciting, playing as a professional here for the first time. I am used to playing here and one thing I know now is that you have to learn from the golf course, find the best places to place your ball and pick the best lines," said Diksha on the eve of the tournament.

The last and only time an Indian won the Hero Women's Indian Open was 21-year-old Aditi Ashok in 2016 and the Bengaluru girl will also look for an encore.

There is also a bunch of other young Indians, who could make a run on a course, which has been a host for some events on the domestic Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour.

Tvesa Malik and Gaurika Bishnoi, the best Indians in 2018 at T-13, Vani Kapoor, who was T-6 in 2017, are some of the prominent Indian golfers who can give a stiff competitions to the in-form international stars, who are set to tee off at the DLF Golf & Country Club on Thursday.

The Indian squad also has amateurs like the talented Pranavi Urs, the 15-year-old and Sneha Singh, the only amateur to have won this year on the domestic WPGA Tour.

There is also Ridhima Dilawari, who has won three titles on domestic Tour this year and she played the Asian Games as an amateur, alongside Diksha last year in Jakarta.

For her part, Hyderabad's Sneha is surprisingly calm about her prospects, never having faced the testing Black Knight course designed by South African great Gary Player.

"Yes, it is a tough course but It's not all that bad, and I'll be doing my best here," she said.

"I was here two years ago to watch the Open when DLF invited junior players from some clubs around the country to come and watch the professionals. This will be a good challenge."

Among others, defending champ Becky Morgan will look to retain the title but she is likely to face stiff competition from in-form internationals, which include the likes of Marianne Skarpnord, Meghan MacLaren and Carly Booth, who have one win each and a clutch of Top-10 showings this season.

Marianne, Meghan and Carly are third, sixth and eighth respectively in the Ladies European Tour's Order of Merit.

Marianne, who has often been among the contenders in her past trips to India, won the Australian Ladies Classic besides four other Top-10s; Meghan won the Worrells NSW Women's Open and has also logged three other Top-10s.

Carly broke a seven-year drought at the recent Tipsport Ladies Czech Open besides which she has four Top-10s.

Morgan, 45, on the other hand, will look to turn around her fortunes after enduring a tough season.

"This year so far hasn't been great, but winning once makes you feel like you can do it again and I'm looking forward to defending," said the UK golfer, who has a best finish of T-14 at Australian Ladies this season.

Among the internationals, a few others have recent form behind them including Austria's Christine Wolf, who finished tied fourth behind Solheim Cup star Carlotta Ciganda at last week's Estrella Damm Mediterranean Open in Spain.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 02 2019. 19:40 IST