Watched by her family at the Karnataka Golf Association in Bengaluru, 15-year-old golfer Avani Prashanth sealed a berth for this year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou after topping the selection Trials on Saturday.
The Bengaluru golfer, who finished tied-21st at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur as the first Indian to feature in the iconic Augusta event, sealed the Lone berth on offer from the Trials in the Women’s section. The teenaged Amateur will join pros Aditi Ashok and Tvesa Malik — both have been handed direct berths based on their world rankings — for the Games scheduled for September.
With scores of four best rounds taken into consideration from the overall five, Avani (74-64-69-70-71) held her composure in the final round with a 1-under 71 to finish at 14-under 274. Jahanvi Bakshi ( 69-69-69-69-70) was second at 12-under 276. Avani produced a treat in her home city in the second round on Wednesday, firing an 8-under 64 to join Bakshi in the lead. That score, according to her father MS Prashanth, is the best of her nascent career.
“This is really satisfying, a fantastic performance by her to get to 14-under,” Prashanth said from Bengaluru. “The last time she played in a four-day tournament six months ago her score was 5-under. So, it was incredible how she fought. Full credit to her for holding her nerve right till the end and not lose her way. ”
The Class 9 student at Greenwood High International School in Bengaluru had earmarked the Asian Games as a key goal for 2022. “This year, I want to break into the top-75 rankings and win gold for India at the Asian Games,” Avani had told this paper after her Augusta trip.
For the first time, the Asian Games will also feature professionals and the Indian Golf Union threw open the Trials for amateurs and professionals. In the men’s section, 16 competed for two berths while 11 women chased one spot in the five-day Trials.
Avani (111th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking) is the only Indian Amateur to make the cut for Hangzhou. “The Asian Games will be a terrific experience for Avani,” Prashanth said. “One, she is young, and two, she will compete with some of the top Asian Golfers and the future best from Asia. So it’s an incredible opportunity and she will back herself to do well there. ”
Madappa, Rashid clinch men’s spots
Among men, Viraj Madappa and Rashid Khan qualified from the Trials and will be joined by Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma, who were both handed direct berths. Madappa (66-68-71-69-67) totalled 18-under 270 from his four best rounds while Khan (68-73-67-66-71) aggregated 16-under 272 from his best four.