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Amateur Pranavi top Indian; MacLaren, Hillier share lead at HWIO

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Pranavi Urs
Pranavi Urs

Gurugram: Teen amateur golfer Pranavi Urs nailed two late birdies to emerge as the best-placed Indian at Tied-10th after the opening round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open.

The 16-year-old from Mysore, a past winner on the domestic pro tour, brought home a card of one-under 71 at the DLF Golf and Country Club to lie four shots behind the two leaders — England’s Meghan MacLaren and Whitney Hilliers of Australia.

Meghan and Whitney shared the lead at five-under 67.

Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and England’s Liz Young were tied third at four-under 68 each, while Swede Linda Wessberg (69) was fifth.

Four players, including Europe’s Solheim Cup-winning captain, Catriona Matthew, were tied-sixth on two-under 70 and another eight players shot 71s to be Tied-10th including Pranavi.

Adding to the action on the first day was Lucknow-based 19-year-old Jyotsana Singh, a late entrant, who aced the par-3 16th. She had an interesting finish – four bogeys between 13th and 18th with an ace in between on 16th for 73. She closed with two bogeys.

Pranavi, teeing off in the afternoon, played a steady out-bound nine to make the turn on level par 36. Though she dropped a shot early, back to back birdies in the final two holes made sure she would be the only Indian to go under par on the opening day.

Among other Indians, Diksha Dagar and domestic tour regulars Amandeep Drall and Tvesa Malik were Tied-18th after carding 72 each.

Amandeep mixed three gained shots against three bogeys in her round, finishing off with an excellent birdie on the ninth hole, her last of the day with the pin awkwardly placed on a shelf right at the back of the green.

Diksha had an even more adventurous day in the course in which she hit five birdies but squandered those gains with three bogeys and a double, while Tvesa had a more sedate round, her two birdies cancelling out two dropped shots. In each case, the final score for the day could have been a better one.

One shot behind them on one-over 73 and tied in 28th place were Neha Tripathi, Gaurika Bishnoi, Astha Madan and 19-year-old tour rookie Jyotsana Singh, who recorded the only hole-in-one on Thursday.

A further shot behind at 74 in shared 42nd were amateurs Seher Atwal and Jahnavi Bakshi, along with Vani Kapoor, for whom the DLF G&CC is her home course.

For defending champion Becky Morgan and 2017 winner Camille Chevalier, though, it was a day to forget.

While the Frenchwoman was three-over 75 and tied 58th, Morgan was three shots further behind on six-over 78 and tied 80th.

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My dream is to represent India at Olympics, says golfer Gaurika Bishnoi

Mahima Katariya

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Gaurika Bishnoi
Gaurika Bishnoi

New Delhi: Gaurika Bishnoi’s reaction was worth watching when asked to comment on golf’s inclusion in the Olympics. The Indian professional golfer excitedly said, “For me, my dream event has been the Olympics. It is fantastic that now golf is a part of the Olympics.”

But she is also a bit disappointed as she has to wait till 2024 to represent India at the Games. “Unfortunately, I have to wait for the 2024 Olympics. Since I just graduated, so three years, it’s been juggling between studies and sports, it gets a little tough to do two things at a time. But I’m pretty optimistic about my chances in 2024,” Gaurika told Sports Lounge.

Golf was an Olympics sport in 1900 and 1904 and returned to the fold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She said her source of motivation is Aditi Ashok, a fellow professional Indian golfer who also took part at the Rio Games. In 2017, Aditi became India’s first golfer in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).

Gaurika’s target is to emulate Aditi.  “I’m really inspired by Aditi. We have played and travelled together. I have seen how much she has improved and dedicated herself to the game. It is always better to have very relatable idols and I draw motivation from her,” she said.

The 22-year-old Gaurika is playing golf for almost the last 10 years. She was the top ranked profesional women’s golfer of the country in 2017-18 and also picked up her maiden title of the season in Hero WPG Tour.

She is satisfied with her performance till now. “I am happy to be the number one player in the country. But as a sports person, we always feel that we can get better and better, it is a never ending process.”

To improve, Gaurika takes feedback about her game regularly. According to her, she has definitely improved herself. “I would want to play on the European Tour with the full card. So I think that’s my next target now.”

The sports ministry granted has granted a 90-day lifeline to the Indian Golf Union (IGU) to run the sport after de-recognising it for failure to implement the National Sports Code. The Indian Olympic Association has formed a governance panel to run the sport and appointed Women’s Golf Association of India’s president (WGAI) Kavita Singh to chair its meetings.

When Gaurika was asked about her views on the issue she said, “It is very unfortunate what happened with IGU. “But Kavita ma’m genuinely loves the sport. So I am very sure that Kavita ma’m will do whatever best can be done for the golfers in India.”

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Wolf claims Hero Women’s Indian Open, Anika best placed Indian at 5th

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Christine Wolf
Christine Wolf, winner of Hero Women's Indian Open 2019 with Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Hero MotoCorp

Gurugram: The country’s top amateur golfer Anika Varma finished a creditable fifth in the Hero Women’s Indian Open with a 3-under par aggregate of 285 and a final day card of two-under 70.

The 15-year-old Anika was one shot ahead of best-placed home professional Tvesa Malik, who was tied sixth at one-under 287.

“I was pretty nervous in the beginning but as soon as I hit my first tee shot I felt fine. I had a good group (with Sweden’s Emma Nilsson and Manon De Roey of Belgium) today and I enjoyed playing with them. That helped me play well too,” Anika said.

“I was pretty consistent today, just had one double (bogey) on the 16th. Before that, I was doing pretty good and I didn’t miss a single regulation before the 16th hole, I think only that one and the 18th, which was the highlight of my day.”

Last year, Tvesa had finished as the best home golfer at tied 13th and Sunday’s result was significant progress for the LET rookie as well.

“I think it was a little bit more of a struggle but I am happy with my overall performance for the week. I think I am happy with my game and the way I handled the pressure on the course, so I’m quite pleased overall,” said Tvesa.

“I missed a lot of putts so that was not a great part of my game. On the 18th hole, I definitely wasn’t expecting that to happen at all (chip-in from off the green) so I’m glad I could make a birdie from there.”

Christine Wolf of Austria buried the ghosts of the past with a bogey-free final round to clinch her maiden Ladies European Tour title.

The HWIO and the DLF Golf and Country Club is becoming a happy hunting ground for first-time winners. Following Welsh veteran Becky Morgan’s breakthrough win after 19 long years on the Ladies European Tour in 2018, it was the 30-year-old Austrian Wolf’s turn as she grabbed her first title after six years on the Tour.

Wolf, who received the trophy from Hero MotoCorp Chairman Pawan Munjal, showed no nervousness on the final day as she delivered a commanding bogey-free final round of 69 to total 11-under 277 and win with rounds of 73, 68, 67 and 69.

She finished three shots ahead of Marianne Skarpnord (70 and eight-under) and four ahead of MacLaren (72 and seven-under). Whitney Hillier, the halfway co-leader, shot 72 and was sole fourth at six-under.

Last year, Wolf fumbled twice. First on the third day while being well ahead and on the final day, when she was tied for the lead. She shot a quadruple bogey on the third day and a double bogey on the final day and finished Tied-second allowing Morgan to grab the title. This time, there was to be no such error.

“I’m super happy obviously with this first LET win, but also that I did it here,” said a beaming Wolf.

“Everyone knew of last year’s drama coming into the week here so to win by three shots was very nice. But you can’t get ahead of yourself in golf and I was obviously a little nervous.”

Among other Indians, Astha Madan (70 and 2-over 290) was Tied-19th, Vani Kapoor (75 and 3-over 291) was T-21st, Diksha Dagar (74 and 7-over 295) was Tied-32nd, Amandeep Drall (78 and 9-over 297) was T-37th, amateur Pranavi Urs (75 and 11-over 299) and Gaurika Bishnoi (77 and 11-over 299) were Tied-47th.

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Wolf leads, Anika best-placed Indian at Women’s Indian Open golf

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Anika verma
Anika Verma.

Gurugram: Teenager Anika Verma shot a stunning five-under 67 in the third round to be the best ranked Indian at tied ninth alongside compatriot Tvesa Malik in the Hero Women’s Indian Open golf tournament.

The 15-year-old Anika, who had six birdies, five of them on the front nine, against one bogey added a 67 to her first two round scores of 76-72.

While Tvesa followed her even par 72-72 with a 71. The duo are one-under par 215, seven shots behind leader Christine Wolf.

“I left a few shots out there on the course but I made the putts when I needed them. Overall, I’m very happy with my first under-par round of the week and positive about tomorrow,” Tvesa said.

Meanwhile, Wolf exorcised the ghosts of the past with a birdie on the 18th in the third round to take sole possession of the lead after 54 holes. She is now eight-under and one shot clear of Meghan MacLaren (69).

Another shot behind at seven-under 209 was Marianne Skarpnord (71), the highest-ranked player from the LET Order of Merit in this field.

Vani Kapoor shot an even par 72 to be tied-13th at one-over 217, following a steady round, in the course of which she swapped two bogeys for as many birdies.

Amandeep Drall could not build on her momentum of Friday with a three-over 75 that dropped her into a tie for 27th place at three-over 219.

Astha Madan was next best at four-over 220 (73, 75, 72) with her first par round of the week.

Diksha Dagar too left shots out on the course and is now tied 36th at five-over 221 (72, 73, 76) and Gaurika Bishnoi was tied-42 at six-over 222 (73, 74, 75).

Anika, till recently India’s top ranked junior and a qualifier in the US Girls Championship earlier in the year, hit six birdies and looked poised to bring in a bogey-free card till she dropped a shot on the intimidating par-4 17th hole. That was her only blemish of the day as she showed great composure and calm.

“I kept hitting it very good today. I didn’t need very long putts other than the eighth hole where I needed a little over 20 feet for the conversion. Most of my approach shots were within range so I could just go for most of the putts,” Anika said.

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