India’s Aditi Ashok sustained supreme form in the final round of the 2023 Magical Kenya Ladies Open on the PGA Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge to win the third edition of the tournament.
She played a solid round of 74, taking her total for the tournament to 12-under par 280, a phenomenal nine shots ahead of her nearest challenger.
She was out in 37 on the front nine courtesy of a birdie at the par-4 1st and having dropped a shot at the par-3 8th where she found the water off the tee.
She was steady in the back nine, closing with a 37 courtesy of a birdie at the par-5 11th and having dropped shots at the par-5 15th and the short par-3 17th.
Aditi made her intentions clear early in the tournament when she opened her challenge with an emphatic score of 67 – four clear of the next golfer.
And if her opening round was emphatic, her second, where she carded 70, was solid. Her third round, where she ended the day with a round of 69, was steady and the final round completed her 4-day streak of stellar performance.
The 24-year-old came into the tournament with the disappointment of 2019 still fresh in her mind where she came agonizingly close to winning the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open, only to finish second behind Esther Henseleit by one shot.
Speaking after clinching the win, Aditi said:
“It has been a great week and I think it has proven that my off-season and hard work has paid off this week. I just kept hitting fairways and greens. I think the last few holes I didn’t make very many good swings but it’s all good, I guess. I have worked a lot with my coach and my fitness team back home together with whom we have put in a lot of work over two months, just to get back to my original strength level and I think this week I feel I have gotten back to where I was maybe a couple of years ago, and I think it is pretty good.
“It was cool and different, all part of the experience of playing in Kenya to see giraffes (on the course). I don’t think I have ever seen giraffes that close before.”
Today’s win takes her win tally in the Ladies European Tour to four, with her first and second wins in November 2016 at the Hero Women’s Indian Open and at Qatar Ladies Open. She won her third at the FBM Ladies Open in November 2017.
Finishing tied in second place was eighteen-year-old April Angurasaranee from Thailand who ended her campaign with a total score of 3-under par, 289, to mark her best finish at a Ladies European Tour tournament. She shared runner-up honours with Englishwoman Alice Hewson who carded 70 on the final day to match the overall 3-under-par score.
April carded 36 on the front nine courtesy of birdies at the par-5 2nd and the par-5 6th and having dropped a shot at the par-4 5th. She had a less-than-ideal back nine where she opened with a double-bogey at the 10th and holed a series of bogeys at the par-4 13th, the par-4 16th and the par-3 17th for a back nine total of 41.
On her part, Alice carded 36 on the front nine with birdies at the 2nd, 7th and 9th holes and having dropped shots at the 4th and 6th holes. On the back nine, she was out with 36 courtesy of birdies at the 11th, 17th and 18th holes and back-to-back bogeys at the 14th, 15th and 16th.
Tournament favourite coming into the week, Esther Henseleit from Germany, saw her hopes of grabbing a three-peat shattered after ending her campaign with a score of 78 to take her total for the event to four-over par, 296, leaving her tied in 17th place.
Kenya’s Naomi Wafula – who made history by being the only Kenyan player to make the Cut at the tournament since its debut in 2019 – finished in 56th. Only six players posted par and better scores at the end of the tournament, underlining its toughness as players battled strong winds amidst the hot and humid weather of the coast.
The final round was graced by Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Rachel Ruto, who was accompanied by the Cabinet Secretary of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts , Hon. Ababu Namwamba, and the Cabinet Secretary of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage Penina Malonza.
Speaking at the same occasion, Hon. Namwamba said:
“The Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts is delighted to support this tournament, we are convinced that such events demonstrate to our young people the opportunities that sport offers. I am sure over the past week, the international and five Kenyan players have inspired future golfers.”
CS Ababu Namwaba went on to applaud Vipingo Ridge for introducing the sport of golf to children from underprivileged backgrounds in the area, through their grassroots program.
Commenting on the tournament’s tourism value to the country, CS Penina said:
“The Magical Kenya Ladies Open is a significant event in Kenya’s tourism calendar, this year’s event is significant as it has helped built on the successes we’ve had in the 2019 and 2021 editions.”
“This year’s tournament is the first in the 2023 Ladies European Tour calendar, underlining the event’s significance to the L.E.T. Kenya is growing as a golf destination and the government will keep supporting the growth of the sport.”
The CS also announced the government’s intent to tap into the $21.7 Billion global golf tourism market, to grow the country’s tourist arrivals.
U.COM Event Managing Director Dirk Glittenberg announced that after making the CUT, Kenya’s Naomi Wafula has been invited to play at the 2023 Amundi German Masters in June.