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Armed with ‘impressive short game’, Diksha Dagar among favourites to lift Women’s Indian Open trophy

Published at :October 19, 2023 at 12:47 AM
Modified at :October 20, 2023 at 1:34 AM
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Rohit Bhardwaj

Aditi Ashok won the tournament way back in 2016.

Gurugram: Local favourites Diksha Dagar and Tvesa Malik will have to face stiff challenge from top European stars as they seek to capture the Hero Women’s Indian Open title after a gap of six years here at the demanding DLF Golf & Country Club beginning Thursday. Aditi Ashok is the only Indian to have won the tournament in 14 editions in 2016.

The Gary Player-designed layout has been a tough test for most professionals, who will rely more on their iron play and short game to shoot low scores. The star-studded field for the $400,000 Ladies European Tour (LET) event comprises five of the top-11 pros on the Race to Costa del Sol standings.

Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson, ranked No. 2 on the LET Order of Merit, will spearhead the field followed by No. 4-ranked Diksha, No. 5-ranked Trichat Cheenglab of Thailand, Nuria Iturrioz (10) of Spain and Swede Lisa Pettersson (11).

Gustavsson had finished tied 27th in the last edition of the Women’s Indian Open and will be fancying her chances at the Black Knight course following her recent win in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.

“It is great to be back here. I have been here quite a few times. The course is in great condition as always and it is such a good test. I have been playing good and won a few weeks back and I am excited to be back,” Gustavsson told reporters. The 30-year-old has changed her mental approach since last year and feels that it would keep support her in pursuit of Order of Merit title.  

This year winning the Order of Merit is within my reach and I feel that I keep playing the same way, I can get there. It is very tight at the top and it will be an interesting finish to the year… What I have changed this year is probably my mental approach. Last year I was kind of fed up at the end of the year. I played a lot of tournaments coming out to the end stretch. But this year, I feel a lot more happier,” she explained.

With eight top-10 finishes from 17 starts including victory at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open this June, Diksha has had a fantastic 2023 season till now. Her consistency helped her overtake compatriot Aditi on the LET Order of Merit too. Armed with an ‘impressive short game’, Diksha, who also turned vegan following idol Novak Djokovic, is primed for a memorable finish and end the nation’s six-year title draught in the event this time.

“This season has been great so far for me. One thing that I have tried to change is my mindset. Also, I turned vegetarian four months back after being inspired by Djokovic whom I follow. Coming here for the Women’s Indian Open is great. I have played lots of international tournaments but playing at home is lot different,” Diksha said.

A change of equipment is also likely to benefit Diksha in her quest of her third LET crown. The 22-year-old won her maiden international title in the Investec South Africa Women’s Open in 2019.

“This is a beautiful and interesting golf course. I have also changed my equipment and that has improved my game. And I have worked on my short game. I have played here multiple times. Last year I struggled with my short game but this year I have been playing well. I am looking to continue my form,” she elaborated.

Her rival Gustavsson is mighty impressed with Diksha’s game. She is a great player and I have played a lot with her. She has such an impressive short game. When we were at the skills challenge yesterday, it was a really tough bunker shot and I told to myself that if anyone is getting close, it is Diksha which she did,” the Swede said.  

Home course favourite Tvesa Malik will also be carrying the Indian flag with her familiarity of the DLF course likely to keep her ahead of the chasing pack.

“My game is getting better. It has been nice getting back into contention and it is nice to come back here on a familiar golf course. This is my home course and I have been playing here all the time.  The conditions are great but it is still a challenge. You have to play great and work on all aspects of the game to be in contention here,” Tvesa said. 

Thai rookie Trichat Cheenglab is visiting India for the second time and is already in love with Indian food, especially like Butter Chicken. Trichat is confident of performing well in the event as India has similar weather conditions like Thailand.

“This is my first year on the LET and I have enjoyed it a lot. It is almost my second home and I have made a lot of friends. This is a challenging course. This is my second time here as I had first played Hero Women's Indian Open in 2019 on an invitation spot. The weather here is very similar to Thailand where it is very hot and that helps,” Trichat said.