Harpal Singh Bedi
Gurugram: Luck deserted Amandeep Drall at a crucial moment as a bogey on the 14th shattered her dream of a title while Germany’s Olivia Cowan held her nerves and returned solid 4-under 68 to win the $ 400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
For the 26-year-old German, Cowan, it was her maiden win on the LET after no less than 27 Top-10 finishes in 96 starts on the Tour. Cowan totaled 13-under 275 and won by three shots over third round leader Amardeep Drall had par 72 round and Caroline Hedwall (71), who dropped a bogey on the 18th to slip from sole second to joint second with the Indian.
Still Amandeep Drall’s tied second place at this marquee event was the icing on the cake in a strong display by the home contingent on Sunday.
Amandeep was in contention till late in her Sunday round and finished with scores of 67, 72, 76 and 72.
Cowan picked up the biggest cheque of her career at US$ 60,000, while the 2011 winner Hedwall was runner-up for the third time in five starts at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
For Amardeep , it was her best career finish on the LET and it also fetched her US$ 6,000 more than what she would have at third. Hedwall and Drall picked up US$ 30,000 each.
Cowan who started the final round one shot behind the home favourite Amandeep Drall, was still one behind at the turn and tied with Hedwall for second. Hedwall birdied the 11th and Cowan birdied the 12th to join Drall at the top. The trio playing together parred the next two holes.
With four holes left and three players tied at 11-under, a play-off looked imminent, before Cowan holed a crucial birdie on the Par-5 15th. With Drall dropping a birdie on the same hole, Cowan was sole leader at 12-under, while Hedwall was 11-under and Drall fell to 10-under.
Cowan did not look back. As Hedwall and Drall found it difficult to find a birdie, Cowan almost nailed the title with yet another birdie on the dangerous Par-4 17th to move to 13-under, two clear of Hedwall and three ahead of Drall..
” To be honest. The whole weekend. I wasn’t really thinking of winning this time. I just wanted to go out there and have a good mindset and just play good golf. I was playing good golf so I just decided to trust that and come out today and just see what happens really.” Cowan said after the win
It turned out to be was a great week for the home golfers, who had four players in Top-8 with the Tokyo Olympic fourth-place finisher, Aditi Ashok (71) in fourth place, while Gaurika Bishnoi (73) was tied sixth at 4-under and Vani Kapoor (69) capped her tenth straight cut in the tournament with a Tied-eighth place. Gaurika’s tied sixth place was her best at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
Amandeep said, “I am pleased with the performance, even though I did not win. I felt if the putts in 12th and 13th, the first from seven feet and the other from nine feet were crucial. If they had fallen, I would have got the momentum. But overall, I am happy the way I held out and this should improve my ranking and get me more events.”
Taking sole fourth place was LPGA regular Aditi Ashok (70-71-69-71) with a seven-under par 281 aggregate while Gaurika Bishnoi (71-68-72-73) was tied for sixth place on four-under 284.
Vani Kapoor (72-71-73-69) was the fourth Indian in the top 10, sharing eighth place with a three-under 285.
Both Vani and Gaurika are regulars at the DLF Golf and Country Club, venue of the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
The round of the day though was turned in by best-finishing amateur Avani Prashanth, who fired a five-under 67 to take a share of 12th place overall along with six others.
Avani’s four-day aggregate of one-under 287 (75-76-69-67) ensured that she would also win the amateur’s medal ahead of US-based Anika Varma (five-over 293) and Vidhatri Urs of Mysore (10-over 298).
In 2019 when the HWIO was last played, Anika was the best-placed Indian, taking a share of fifth place.
Avani, who is headed to Thailand for the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific (WAAP) in a fortnight’s time was pleased as punch with her display.
“I was waiting to play a round like the one I did today. The greens were really fast but I still managed to get good putts in. I think my stroking improved over the last few days.”
The Bangalore teenage closed the week with consecutive sub-70 rounds, 69 on Saturday and the 67 on Sunday.
Amongst the Indian professionals, Hitaashee Bakshi (73-74-71-71) and Nishtha Madan (72-73-71-73) were tied for 20th place on one-over 289 and Neha Tripathi (74-72-74-72) was T27 on four-over 292.
Diksha Dagar, Ridhima Dilawari Asmitha Sathish and Seher Atwal finished further down the order.