Indian teenager triumphs at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club by one shot from England's Georgia Hall.
Aditi Ashok holds her nerve to win the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open
Aditi Ashok overcame a late wobble to hold her nerve and win the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open on Saturday.
The Indian teenager, who had gone into the final round leading by two shots, prevailed by one shot on 18-under from England's Georgia Hall, who was runner-up for the second successive year at the event at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
After bogeying the fifth hole, the 19 year old had gone on a streak of six birdies in 11 holes to open a four-stroke advantage with three holes to play.
However, a double bogey on the par-three 17th hole, aligned to Hall, who was playing in the group ahead, picking up a birdie at the same hole a few minutes earlier, meant she went to the 18th hole needing to par the hole to be champion.
But, she kept her composure to get her par and finish on a three-under score of 69 to edge out Hall and pick up her third Ladies European Tour (LET) career victory.
“It wasn’t really nerves, I think I lapsed for a bit and missed the putt,” said Ashok.
“I was playing okay all day but wasn’t making as many birdie putts as I wanted to but I’m happy I came out on top."
As to how she had approached the final hole, coming on the back of her struggles at the 17th hole, Ashok admitted she had been undecided on how to approach it.
“I figured out I only had a one-shot lead and I was kind of, in between two clubs, whether I should go over the waters or go from the left," she said. "I decided to go from the left and it worked.”
Ashok’s previous two LET titles were the back-to-back wins at the Indian Open and Qatar Ladies Open in her rookie season in 2016.
The Bangalore resident will now look to emulate her victory in Abu Dhabi next week when she heads to her home country to begin her defence of the Indian Open in Gurgaon, which begins on Friday.
Hall was consistent with six birdies in a bogey free round to move up four places to finish on 17-under 271.
“I’m a little disappointed, I thought to myself I needed eight under today and I was ticking them off in my head,” Hall, 21, said.
“I hit the ball great all week but putted really badly, and didn’t hole anything today. But Aditi played great again and managed to par the last, so well done to her."
Hall had made par herself at the last hole and, and admitted she had not realised that her rival had hit trouble on the 17th hole, meaning a birdie from her on the 18th would have forced a play-off.
“As far as I knew, I thought Aditi was 20-under so I was three behind going down the last, so I didn’t think I had a chance," she said of her mindset.
"If I had known, then maybe things would have been different. But I really enjoyed the week in Abu Dhabi and had a lot of fun out there.”
Hall’s 66 in the final round was the joint-best score of the day. Nuria Iturrios of Spain was the other, but she finished in a tie for 11th with a 10-under 278.
Swede Camilla Lennarth with a round of five-under 67 was third on 16-under, one stroke ahead of American Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with how I finished today,” said Lennarth. “I have had a really solid week and gave it my all out there.
“I am going to go home, missing India and China, to get some much needed recovery before playing in Dubai.”