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Women’s Indian Open: Diksha Dagar, Vani Kapoor keep Indians in hunt as Norwegian Madelene takes first round lead

Published at :October 19, 2023 at 8:03 PM
Modified at :February 4, 2024 at 6:34 PM
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(Courtesy : Ladies European Tour)

Rohit Bhardwaj


Amateurs Vidhatri Urs and Avani Prashanth also impressed.

Gurugram: Diksha Dagar and Vani Kapoor raised local hopes as they stayed close to the leader Madelene Stavnar of Norway with scores of five-under 67 and four-under 68 respectively in the opening round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2023 on Thursday. Stavnar carded a blemish free six-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead in the $400,000 prize money event.

While Diksha maintained her rich vein of form, that saw her posting eight top-10 finishes from 17 starts on the Ladies European Tour (LET), to clinch the solo second position after 18 holes, Vani utilised her knowledge about the demanding DLF Golf & Country club to stay in lone third place.

It has been fabulous few months for Diksha and a change of equipment along with turning vegan has worked wonders for her game.

“It was a slow start for me today because on 11th hole, I was confused with the club selection. So I wasn’t confident about the tee shot. Never mind, I could have made an up and down. But it was alright, afterwards I hit six birdies and I had a solid round. On the 10th hole, I made a 35 feet birdie putt which was uphill,” Diksha said later. 

Starting from the 10th tee, Diksha had a poor start with a bogey on the 11th hole. However, the two-time LET winner two birdies on the front nine and then four birdies on the finishing nine to turn it around. Naturally, she was happy about her round.

“About my game, all aspects are fairly good and most importantly, putting was the main thing and I putted well today. I think I missed two or three greens… I prefer to play in the morning because I feel nice. Hopefully, today’s momentum will continue tomorrow,” the 22-year-old added.

Vani has been knocking on the doors for an LET title, especially on her home course. She finished tied eighth in the National Open last year and posted another tied eighth result in the Aramco Team Series in Jeddah in 2022. Her best finish recently came at the Big Green Egg Open last season, where she registered a joint third result.

Vani had a strong start with four back-to-back birdies from Hole 13 to 16 before stumbling upon bogeys on the 18th and second holes. However, the seasoned pro sank birdies on the fifth and eighth, proving why familiarity is beneficial when it comes to the challenging Gary Player layout.

“It was a good day today. I gave myself a lot of chances, stayed patient throughout, and I think that’s something that worked. I think my game has been good throughout the year, but unfortunately all the scores haven’t been coming together.

“It just comes in patches. And for that reason, I have just been making cuts, but I haven’t had any good finishes. It’s pretty annoying and frustrating. But at the same time, I am always really excited because I know I’m really close to making it happen and playing some good golf,” Vani said.

Playing with veteran Lee-Ann Pace, who has 23 international titles to her name including 11 on the LET and 14 on the Sunshine Tour, motivated Vani to do better.

“I love playing with her, we played together in Aramco and I had the best round. This was in Jeddah last year and we had so much fun on the course, all smiles, laughter, cheering each other up. I like being cheerful and being myself,” she added.

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INDIAN AMATEURS IMPRESS

Home fans had plenty to cheer about on Thursday as amateurs Vidhatri Urs and Avani Prashanth posted under-par rounds on Thursday to lie tied sixth and tied 11th respectively in the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2023.

Vidhatri is the first cousin of LET regular Pranavi Urs and plays on the Indian Golf Union junior circuit. The 17-year-old will be competing in the National Games next from November 5 to 9 at the Delhi Golf Club and sees the event as a learning opportunity.

“I have played a few times here in the WGAI professional events here. The course setup is really good and the greens and everything else. Playing with the professionals you will improve a lot and you learn more, so that helps you to play well in IGU events competing against the other amateurs. So yeah, it’s a good experience playing with the professionals,” Vidhatri said.

Avani, who became the first Indian to clinch the Queen Sirikit Cup individual title this year, competed in the recently-concluded Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. She plans to turn pro and play on the LET via Qualifying School scheduled later this year.

“The year been pretty good. I’ve had two good wins, but a couple of rocky performances. But I’m glad I’ve won twice now. Next plan is to turn pro and make it through LET Q-School. Otherwise, worst case, I stay amateur, which isn’t a really bad idea because I would like to dominate a little bit more in the amateur circuit,” she said.

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