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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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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 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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Amandeep leads India’s charge, Hillier takes sole lead in women’s Indian Open golf

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Amandeep Drall
Amandeep Drall.

Gurugram: Amandeep Drall shot a fine two-under 70 in the second round to be the best placed Indian at tied eighth spot in the Hero Women’s Indian Open golf tournament.

Amandeep (72-70) now occupy the tied-eighth position with a total of two-under 142.

Australian Whitney Hillier rode a roller coaster of a back nine, which she rounded off with two birdies at the very end to sneak ahead of everyone into the sole lead.

Hillier, who shot five-under on the first day for a share of the lead, dropped to three-under at one stage but fought back superbly in the last seven holes to rise to the top at six-under and was one ahead of Marianne Skarpnord (68-71), who had the clubhouse lead for the most part of the day.

First round co-leader Meghan MacLaren dropped back to shared third place alongside Linda Wessberg of Sweden at two-under 140.

Three players including Christine Wolf (73-68) were tied-fifth at three-under 141.

Amandeep, a consistent player on the domestic circuit, who has never had a top-10 finish in an LET event, finished her day with three birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th which are considered the toughest stretch on the Gary Player course at DLF Golf and Country Club.

With the cut falling at seven-over, 68 players made the weekend rounds and that included 10 Indians, four of them amateurs which augurs well for Indian women’s golf.

Overnight co-leader Hillier, playing one group ahead of Amandeep, had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine but a double bogey on the 10th set her back. She roared back with four birdies in the last seven holes to take the lead.

In the morning, Skarpnord, who is the highest-ranked player on LET rankings in this week’s field, seemed to be in a bother as she turned in two-over on the back nine, which was her front nine.

She had a triple bogey on 11th and a bogey on the 16th against birdies on 13th and 18th. She rebounded off strongly on the second nine with birdies on the first, third, fourth and fifth to get to six-under before dropping a shot on sixth to finish 36 holes in five-under.

Tvesa Malik (72-72) and Vani Kapoor (74-70) played steadily to ensure make the cut and are tied-15th.

Starting from the 10th, Tvesa was one-over for the back nine, her first nine, and one-under for the front nine of the course just like the first day.

Also starting on 10th, Vani, sixth in 2017, was one-under for back nine and on the front stretch she had two birdies and one bogey.

The bravest Indian on the second day was Diksha Dagar (72-73), who started the day with a quadruple bogey.

She hit the far right and went back to the tee and had a four-putt on the green for an eight. She fought back with three birdies on third, fourth and eighth.

Again she dropped shots on 11th and 12th, only to birdie the 13th and 14th. Then Diksha saved an improbable par on the 18th hole after hitting into the water with the first shot.

Her approach shot, which became her third shot, sailed over the water and curled along and found its way into the cup from 115 yards for a par. She is one-over 145 and tied-22nd.

Gaurika Bishnoi (73-74) was tied-31st, while fast-rising amateur Anika Varma (76-72) and Astha Madan (73-75) were in shared 37th place at four-over 148.

Amateurs Jahnavi Bakshi (74-76) and Pranavi Urs (71-79) were tied-51st at six-over 150.

Yet another amateur Seher Atwal (74-77), studying in the US, just made the grade at seven-over 151.

Missing out were some big names, including defending champion Becky Morgan (77-80) of Wales and pre-tournament favourite Carly Booth (81-76) of Scotland, both of whom finished on 13-over par 152.

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