Aditi Ashok in action on the final day of the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic taking place at the Emirates Golf Club on 9th December, 2017. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

With an estimated 3,420,000 Indian expats living in the UAE, Aditi Ashok is set for a strong following at the upcoming Dubai Moonlight Classic presented by EGA as she makes her first appearance in Dubai since winning the hearts of billions with a historic fourth place finish at the Olympic Games earlier this year.

The 23-year-old had been in the top three for the first three rounds at Kasumigaseki Country Club, but fell just short of a medal after finishing one stroke behind former World No.1 Lydia Ko in the women’s golf competition.

Despite the heartbreak of missing out on a medal, Ashok’s gutsy performance against the world’s best shone a much-needed spotlight on women’s golf back home in India.

“I think my performance in Tokyo definitely propelled the much-needed exposure to golf, especially to the masses in India,” said Ashok. “It was great for me to represent women’s golf and have such a good finish.

“I hope it boosts the popularity of the sport and encourages youngsters to take up the game now that more people are aware of golf in India. I also hope to see an increase in supporting golf and people to look at it as a medal sport too.”

Ashok will once again arrive at the only night tournament in world golf trying to achieve the traditional ‘Desert Slam’ after picking up both the Qatar Ladies Open and Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi earlier in her career. The youngster has come close to sealing the hat trick in the past after twice finishing in the top five, when the event was played on the Majlis, before carding a stunning final round eight-under 64 last year to take a share of sixth over the Faldo course.

“I enjoy playing desert golf, I don’t mind the hot weather either so that helps too,” she said. “The courses I’ve had the chance to play have also been some of the best in the Middle East - it’s fun to play on such well-designed layouts.

“Dubai is one of my favourite stops on tour and I played great last year, especially the last two days, so I hope I can feed off those rounds and put three good rounds together this time. Obviously winning means a lot, but winning in Dubai, when I’ve come so close, would be the icing on the cake.”