Fourth at Olympics, where they give out three medals, kind of sucks: Golfer Aditi Ashok

Aditi Ashok nearly pulled off what nobody thought was a ‘likely’ scenario four days ago when the women’s golf individual event began. For three days, world No. 200 Aditi kept snapping at the heels of the leader and world No. 1 Nelly Korda of USA and remained in contention for first-ever medal for India in the sport. She entered the fourth and final in second position with a two-shot lead. As the weather-interrupted event rolled towards the 18th hole on the fourth, the Bengalurean kept herself in strong contention for the medal before she eventually fell just short of the podium finish. With the score of 15-under 269, the 23-year-old Aditi finished fourth, just one stroke behind the bronze and silver medallists. Still, it was nonetheless a massive improvement on her 2016 Rio performance she had finished tied 41st. Excerpts from her media interaction on Saturday:

Q. Tough luck. Didn’t quite go your way. Just sum up the day for us.

ADITI: I think today I didn’t really drive the ball very well and then it’s hard to get birdie putts or hit greens when you’re not in the fairway. So, that was definitely the hardest part to make a score today.

Q. You were well within that race for the top 3. The 15th hole perhaps that is where things slipped out?

ADITI: Yeah, I mean 15th was okay. I was just scrambling, I was in between clubs so I hit one more and it went over. But I don’t think it was that bad. I still made a par, so it’s fine. But just generally, like 15, I was just missing so many fairways. The front nine I just hit one [fairway] and I think the back nine I must have hit maybe a couple more, maybe three or four more. So that was what was bad today, kind of put me out of position so I couldn’t get close to the flag.

Q. You must be focused here, but so many people in India were watching golf early in the morning today. What were your emotions going into the final round today?

ADITI : I mean going into the round I didn’t think about it much, it was fine. But obviously, coming in I tried my best to hole the last few putts. In a regular tournament whether you finish second or fourth it really doesn’t matter, no one cares. But like at this event you need to be in the top three. I didn’t leave anything out there, I think I gave it my hundred percent, but, yeah, fourth at an Olympics where they give out three medals kind of sucks.

Q. Talk about the putt on 17th and the 18th hole?

ADITI: Yeah, 17 was perfect. I hit it exactly the speed I wanted, the line I wanted, I just — maybe I made too many through the four rounds, golfing gods were like, ‘okay, we’re not going to give her this one’. But no, I just tried my best, even the last hole, although it was really out of range, it was almost a long putt, but I still tried to give it a chance. So yeah, I think I gave it my best attempt.

Q. Are you conscious of the fact that a lot of Indian sporting legends have also finished fourth at the Olympics?

ADITI : No, I didn’t know that actually. Obviously now that I’ve joined that … you don’t want to join that club. But yeah, I guess I’ve joined it. But no, I think it’s good, just even top 5 or top 10 at an Olympics is really good. So just having more top finishes, even if it’s not exactly a podium finish, will maybe bring eyes to the sport and more support. That helps grow the game.

Q. What was going through your mind on the last hole?

ADITI : Not much, actually. I got a really good line off the tee, I hit the fairway finally and then I had a good club in, so it was a good number too, so only then I thought that, okay, I had a chance to make a birdie and I pulled it a hair left, also because there was bunker and water on the right but still I gave myself a birdie putt and that putt, I really wanted to hole it and I gave my best attempt. It just hard to force the issue when you’re like 30-feet away.

Q. Can you share a message of inspiration for youngsters back home in India to pick up golf perhaps after your performance this week?

ADITI : Yeah, sure, obviously when I started golf I never dreamt of being or contending at the Olympics, golf wasn’t even an Olympic sport. So sometimes you just pick it up and work hard and have fun every day and sometimes you get here.

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