Aditi Ashok has said that she "didn't leave anything out there", after a nailbiting finish to the women's golf at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday saw her card 3-under in the fourth round, but miss out on a medal by just one stroke.
"Coming in, I tried my best to hole the last few putts and just knowing because in a regular tournament whether you finish second or fourth it really doesn't matter. But at this event you need to be in the top three," said Ashok, who finished fourth behind Nelly Korda of U.S., with Japan's Mone Inami winning silver in a playoff ahead of Lydia Ko of New Zealand. "I didn't leave anything out there, I think I gave it my hundred percent, but, yeah, fourth at an Olympics where they give out three medals kind of sucks."
Ashok's performance matches those of legends of Indian sport such as Milkha Singh, PT Usha, Abhinav Bindra and Dipa Karmakar, who narrowly missed out on podium finishes. When reminded of the company she has joined in Indian sport, Ashok spoke of the importance of how her performance this week could impact Indian sport. "No, I didn't know that actually. Obviously now that I've joined that -- you don't want to join that club. But yeah, I guess I've joined it.
"But no, I think it's good, just even top five or top 10 at an Olympics is really good. Because you know that sport or that person has a medal chance. So just having more top finishes, even if it's not exactly a podium finish, will maybe bring eyes to the sport and more support, more kids pick (it) up, more, whatever, that helps grow the game," she said.
Ashok's performance in the final round itself was still very good, as she recovered from bogeys on the 9th and the 11th with successive birdies on the 13th and 14th to stay within touching distance of the top. In fact, she missed a 4.52m putt for a birdie on the penultimate hole -- one where play for held up for close to an hour with the wind picking up and bringing some rain with it -- with the ball just skimming the top of the pin. Had she completed that shot, she would have moved into a tie for bronze medal, and been in contention for a silver as Inami scored a bogey.
"Yeah, 17 was perfect. I hit it exactly the speed I wanted, the line I wanted, I just -- maybe I made too many through the four rounds, golfing gods were like, 'okay, we're not going to give her this one'," she said. "But no, I just tried my best, even the last hole, although it was really out of range, it was almost a long putt, but I still tried to give it a chance. So yeah, I think I gave it my best attempt."
Ashok did, however, add that her driving let her down on the final day. "I think today I didn't really drive the ball very good and then it's hard to get birdie putts or hit greens when you're not in the fairway. So, yeah, that was definitely the hardest part to make a score today," she said. After Friday's third-round play, Ashok had revealed that testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this year has cost her some strength, which has lowered her driving distance.
Ashok said she wants Indian youngsters to take her as an example of how far "working hard and having fun" every day can take you.
"When I started golf I never dreamt of being or contending at the Olympics, golf wasn't even an Olympic sport. So sometimes you just pick it up and work hard and have fun every day and sometimes you get here," she said.