You could tell that she had no idea. When Aditi Ashok missed the final hole of the regulations in the women’s Olympic golf competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club, a putt that would have put the 23-year-old from India in a playoff for the silver and bronze medals, her shoulders fell and the smile that has conquered the hearts of millions is gone. She thought she screwed up. She even said afterwards, “Finishing fourth in an event with three medals kind of sucks.”
But without fans, without the energy that comes from the intimate contact, Ashok could not know or appreciate the overwhelming response that her fourth place at the Olympic Games in her home country had. She hadn’t seen the tweets; hadn’t heard the comment on the world feed; hadn’t read any reports of the countless Indians who got up at 3 a.m. to practice a sport many of them had never seen before. Little did Ashok know that it was the top trending topic on Twitter in India or the fifth most ranked Twitter topic in the world. She initially didn’t see the news from athletes, Bollywood stars, and the president and prime minister of her home country. She couldn’t imagine the profound influence her courage – the smallest player in the field and the shortest in her three-point with 50 meters – had on people. Here was a player who, according to all statistical rights, shouldn’t have been in the race. But there she was, her mother carrying her stand bag while Aditi got her own yards and read her own putts and pounded critical 15-feet at a time to keep in touch not only with the competition but with them as well Guided tour with 11 holes left to play.
Ashok was Rocky Balboa of those Olympics, the player out of the dark who everyone thought was a punching bag for the champion. Instead, we got a 15-round fight that got the fans going.
Now, just days later and on another continent, Ashok had time to take a deep breath and appreciate the love she received during the Tokyo Games.
“I think it was amazing how many people showed their support and adjusted to the last day and even the third day (of Olympic golf) because people weren’t really there, people weren’t really watching the game of golf in India “Said Ashok as she prepared to play at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. “It was amazing to have so many people and I’m grateful for the support. With my finish, with big superstars in sport in India tweeting about it and the Prime Minister and President tweeting about it, it was great and cool to see that my performance at the Olympics had such a big impact on golf in India as well the people who heard it about it and googled it.
“Of course you don’t think fourth place in a regular tournament will ever do that. It shows how much golf can boost the sport at the Olympics, especially in India where the population is huge but the golfing community is very small.
“Growing this community and introducing children to the sport, or even having children or people who are interested in golf and might want to try it out, is amazing in itself. And seeing it on social media is amazing. My following has exploded a lot. I didn’t expect it to be that big. Everything was easy to see. “
By comparison, Ashok’s Twitter followers grew 204% and their Instagram followers 873% during the Olympics.
“India is slowly changing now, ”she said. “It’s about athletes going to the Olympics to win medals.”
But she also understands that lightning, even in a bottle, flashes quickly. And last week’s fame will only last as long as her next tee shot.
“The thing about golf, no matter what you did last week, it’s a new week whether you played badly or well,” said Ashok. “It’s a new opportunity and everyone is trying to prepare and learn for the course and get ready by Thursday. That’s all i’m trying
“I obviously haven’t had the best season on the LPGA Tour so far. I got a couple of good placements, but nothing really spectacular. I hope that last week and the confidence it has given me in my game can flow into my performance by the end of the year. ”