When history comes so close...Indian golfer Aditi Ashok wins billions of hearts for her outstanding feat!

For a cricket-addicted country like India, Golf has always been a corner of the room as the game on the greeny field was in a fashion that it is a game of leisure and elite. The country has been far from recognizing the game as a competition and battle at the global stage. Moreover, the sense of Golf was not evasive across India and the game was out of Olympics for a century. Imagine how Golf stayed off from the world's biggest sporting event for hundred years and imagine how it will be for India if Golf takes the country to the world stage, so close to winning a medal.

It has what happened at Tokyo Olympics on Saturday after young Indian golfer Aditi Ashok had scripted a remarkable feat in the history of Golf in India. Golf was not on the Olympic cards for 112 years and it has eventually made a comeback at the 2016 Rio Games, the debut Olympics for now 23-year-old Aditi Ashok. Though Aditi was not on the table of athletes who predicted to win medals in 2016, she rose to become a gamechanger that can't be written off and when she qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Aditi was the No 1 Golfer in India, naturally becoming a promising athlete in the Indian contingent to win the medal. 

Aditi had a challenging tournament from both her rivals and the weather. If Aditi wins a medal in Golf, it will be the country's first medal in the sport, and the young golfer ever to be played sport at the Olympics carried hope and expectations over winning a medal. Aditi had delivered brilliant performances from the beginning of the tournament amid meeting tough opponents. In what has become a promising precedent, India has a mix of 56 women and 71 men representing the country and Aditi was one of the medal contenders. 

On Friday, Aditi Ashok had finished round three at the Silver medal position and as she played the fourth and final round of the Golf competition on Saturday, she had a bright prospect of winning a medal and writing history. She was in the tied third spot when a storm disrupted the final round on Saturday. Bracing up the sudden setback, she fought for the medal and lost the battle by getting too close to becoming the first  Olympic medallist for India in Golf. 

Aditi had narrowly missed the Bronze medal and finished fourth in the final competition. The 23-year-old was 3-under after 16 holes and placed at fourth place behind New Zealand's Lydia Ko, who won the Bronze. The young Indian golfer had started the final competition by being in 2nd place and within moments into finals, the warning for the storm had forced the players to leave the field. US Golfer Nelly Korda had continued her campaign to dominate the finals while Japan's Mone Inami had advanced to the second spot, assuring a Silver medal to the host, after being six-under through 16 holes. 

Golf was not popular in India, but Aditi had scripted a remarkable feat in the finals by leading several women golfers from golf-sensation countries. Though Aditi missed the medal, she had unequivocally instilled a hope that India is not too far from winning the medal in Golf. Her play in the Tokyo Olympics would strongly arm the growth of the sport in the country and it would be no surprise if India sends a fleet of more than one golfer to the next Olympics in Paris.  

Speaking after Saturday's match, Aditi has said that she had tested positive for Covid-19 infection when she went back home in May-June. She said, "Actually I went back for a couple of reasons. One was to get a couple of visas and my passport was stuck in the consulate. So that's why I missed Lake Merced Championship. I wanted to come back out for Pure Silk and I tested positive, so I was stuck for a couple of weeks. And then I tested negative and it was all good. I do think it took a little bit of strength out of me. I was never this short. I was always short, but not like 50 yards behind Nelly (US Golfer)." 

She further told the reporters, "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 like hole the last few putts and just knowing because in a regular tournament whether you finish second or fourth it really doesn't matter, no one cares. But like this event, you need to be in the top 3. I didn't leave anything out there, I think I gave my hundred per cent, but, yeah, fourth at an Olympics where they give out three medals kind of sucks." "I think today I didn't really drive the ball very good and then it's hard to get birdie putts or hit greens when you are not in the fairway. So, yeah, that was definitely the hardest part to make a score today", she added. 

But back in the country, Aditi is filled with commendations and compliments as she had won billions of hearts for her outstanding play and contribution to the sport in India's golf history. President Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter and wrote, "Well played, Aditi Ashok! One more daughter of India makes her mark! You have taken Indian golfing to new heights by today's historic performance. You have played with immense calm and poise. Congratulations for the impressive display of grit and skills." 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Well played @aditigolf! You have shown tremendous skill and resolve during #Tokyo2020. A medal was narrowly missed but you’ve gone farther than any Indian and blazed a trail. Best wishes for your future endeavours." Indian Golf Union wrote, "Lionheart @aditigolf, you have won us all over with your brave performance. Upward & onwards for you, the sky is the limit. Best wishes  @DikshaDagar great recovery, a true ambassador for India @IndiaSports @Media_SAI @IOA_Official @ianuragthakur @IGFgolf. Great job #TokyoOlympics." 

Legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar took to Twitter and wrote, "Wonderful effort Aditi, well done. You missed a medal by a whisker but have managed to do something even bigger; make the nation pause & take note about golf at the #Olympics!" Actress Taapsee Pannu said Aditi has woken up an entire nation to a woman playing golf and closest ever to winning a medal. Taking to Twitter, Taapsee said, "But she woke up an entire nation to a woman playing golf and closest ever to winning a medal!  What a feat! Not many of us knew we could be this close. Congratulations @aditigolf."