Aditi Ashok 2
Aditi Ashok Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: India’s ace golfer Aditi Ashok’s father Gudlamani doesn’t caddie for her as he used to, but this week at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, the season opening event of the Ladies European Tour (LET), he will be following his daughter’s every step.

One of the main reasons is that they don’t want to disrupt the winning combination that saw Aditi clinch the tournament held at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club last year. “I haven’t got a permanent caddie who I take everywhere, but my dad will be my caddie here. It is also because he was around when I won here last time. Maybe together we can repeat that performance,” said a smiling Aditi as she looks to defend her title that she won staving off the challenge from twice runner-up England’s Georgia Hall.

However, this time round, the field is all the more fierce. British star Charley Hull, Becky Brewerton of Wales, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, Anne van Dam of The Netherlands will be joining a long list that also comprises Solheim Cup team members Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England and Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark.

This would be Aditi’s first tournament after a two-month long break and though in the best of shape, she doesn’t want to make any bold predictions ahead of the tournament.

“I’m not going in with any expectations. I’m going in knowing that I have played here and won. Just happy that I’m again here to defend. I played really well last time I was here, so it is good to be back in Abu Dhabi,” said the 20-year-old, adding that her pre-season training was good but it wasn’t long enough.

“Training during the break was good, but I took a couple of weeks off in November. Since December, there has been a lot of practice and the weather is also good in India so I have been practising virtually every day,” said Aditi, who has set sights on the Majors this season.

“I was good on the LPGA last season, it was better than first year. Having said that, there is plenty of room for improvement. And yes, one of my target obviously this year is to do well at the Majors. I think that’s where I have lacked in the last couple of years,” said Aditi, who had shot to fame in her debut year in 2016 where she won back-to-back titles at the Hero Women’s Indian Open and the Qatar Ladies Open.

England’s Charley who will be making her debut in Abu Dhabi is a lady of few words and is taking this tournament more as a preparatory one ahead of the testing season ahead.

“The course looks good here. I played the last two days. It seems to be a good place to start the season and warm-up. I came here because it is first tournament in LPGA until Australia. Just want to work on things over the weekend. I changed my clubs, so this week I will be just testing them. I have been working on my pitching technique,” said Charley, who had a pretty good last season with six top 10 finishes, couple of second place finishes and three top 10s in Majors.

With the Solheim Cup taking place in September, Charley, ranked seventh among the European squad, is confident she can make the squad if she can be consistent with her performances.

“Yes, I’m confident if I play good golf I should be there. If I get there, it will be good fun,” said the 22-year-old, who made her Solheim Cup debut in 2013, only months after she turned pro and had teamed up with Catriona Matthew and Jodi Ewart Shadoff in fourballs matches then.