LPGA Tour: Lying third and one off the lead, Aditi Ashok eyes historic win

Clifton (New Jersey), May 13

Aditi Ashok, taking advantage of the warmer weather, moved up to tied third and within one shot of the lead at the 2023 Cognizant Founders Cup as she bids to become the first Indian to win on the LPGA Tour.

Following up on her first round 3-under 68, Aditi, playing her seventh year on the Tour, added 4-under 67 to get to 7-under 137 and one shot behind co-leaders, Australian Sara Kemp (65) and Korea’s Jin Young Ko (68).

Aditi is the winner of one Ladies European Tour event this season and runner-up at the JM Eagle LA Championship, where she lost in a play-off.

Among those missing the cut are Rolex Rankings No. 1 Nelly Korda, two-time 2023 LPGA Tour winner Lilia Vu and 2023 JM Eagle LA Championship winner Hannah Green.

Aditi, who had six birdies against two bogeys, said, “I think it was obviously windier playing the afternoon round, so that was a factor to deal with. I think the greens got really firm and obviously not soft, but hard and firm, so the putts felt quicker and it was harder to get the ball close to the hole, even with short irons sometimes.

“Yeah, I think I putted a bit better than yesterday. Yesterday I felt like I hit the ball as good as today, but just didn’t hole some putts. Today, maybe, I holed a couple more, which always helps.” On the weather, she added, “Yeah, definitely from last year, I remember it being cold and the ball wasn’t travelling as far. Yeah, definitely feels a bit different with the firm fairways, firm greens, playing much shorter than last year. Yeah, warm weather is always good.”

As Kemp and Ko lead, Aditi is tied third with the defending Founders champion Minjee Lee and 2023 rookie Hae Ran Ryu. Aditi will play the third round with Minjee Lee.

Aditi, starting the day at 3-under, opened birdie-birdie to go to 5-under. A bogey on the fifth was followed by birdies on eight and then back-to-back birdies on 11th-12th. A bogey on 17th saw her fall back a bit, but she closed with a solid birdie on the 18th.

On her current position, she said, “If you’re not up in the top maybe 10, 15 in the first couple days, I feel like it’s really hard to have a good finish. So that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on the last few weeks, especially after the first three missed cuts. I just wanted to be near the top of the leaderboard or at the top in the early rounds of the tournament. Hopefully, I can have a good weekend and maybe capitalise on the good start.

Aditi was a little disappointed about the bogey on 17th, but made up on the 18th. She added, “(On the 17th) I think I was a bit distracted with the wind off the tee and we were on the clock, so maybe that played with my mind a little bit. So, yeah, I definitely wanted to get that shot back, and yeah, I’m happy that I stayed composed to hit a good tee shot, good wedge, and hole a good putt, too.” Kemp, with eight birdies and one bogey, jumped from a tie for 30th after round one to joint lead with a second-round 65. The 37-year-old Australian carded a 31 on her front nine and then added three birdies and one bogey on the back nine.

Sharing the lead with Kemp is the Korean superstar Jin Young Ko, currently No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

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