Ashok takes early lead at Vipingo

Ashok takes early lead at Vipingo
Aditi Ashok

An eagle, six birdies and two bogeys propelled the Indian star to top spot as she made light work of the Baobab Course.

Aditi Ashok fired an opening round of 67 (-6) to hold a four-stroke lead after the first day of action at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open.

The 24-year-old made the most of the windy afternoon conditions to put herself at the top of the leaderboard at Vipingo Ridge.

An eagle, six birdies and two bogeys propelled the Indian star to top spot as she made light work of the Baobab Course.


 “It was a great day,” said the three-time LET winner. “I made a lot of putts. I had a lot of birdie chances, but I converted them too, which is good.

“I missed a two-footer on one hole but apart from that, I think played well all day. I hit some really great shots, I hit a couple of hybrids inside five feet which is better than you expect. Hopefully I can carry that momentum into the morning.

“Playing in the wind is generally something I’m not used to so I maybe I went with the wrong club or went at some pins that I maybe shouldn’t have. I will maybe focus on that and play conservative a few times when the shot doesn’t suit my eye.”

Ashok had a good time in Kenya back in 2019 when she finished in second place at Vipingo Ridge, just one shot behind eventual winner Esther Henseleit.

The two-time Olympian is trying to feed off the happy memories that she has around the course and all the birdies she made.

She explained: “I just focus on the positive that I made a lot of birdies last time when I played here and I will try to do the same even though I feel like the conditions are a bit tougher.

“It’s windier and the greens are firm so it’s hard to get the ball close, I still try and feed off those memories of making birdies three years ago.”

Seven players sit in a share of second place on the leaderboard after carding rounds of 71 (-2) on the first day in Kenya.

Italy’s Virginia Elena Carta, Spain’s Ana Peláez Trivino and Scotland’s Kylie went out in the morning groups, while Sweden’s Isabella Deilert, Spain’s Marta Sanz Barrio, England’s Alice Hewson and Thailand’s April Angurasaranee were in the afternoon tee times.

It was a solid start for Italy’s Carta who had two birdies and two double bogeys on her front nine but fought back with four birdies on her back nine for a round of two-under.

Carta said: “It’s exciting to start the season. A little bit of a rusty start I think on the front nine, I was still figuring myself out for 2023.

“Many mistakes due to uncertainties whether that was the wind, the club to use, the bounces or even myself with what to do.

“A rusty start but obviously I fought a lot and came out with a good second nine holes at four-under which really made my round.”

Peláez Trivino, who finished fifth in the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol, rolled in four birdies in her first four holes before making a birdie, bogey and double bogey in her final four holes for her 71 but she is focusing on the positives.

“I think it’s a really good start to the season, first tournament of the year after a while,” she said. “I’m happy overall.

“Obviously, I wish I had finished in a different way but I’m not even going to care about the two shots. I am going to take the positives from the round and fight for the win this week.”

Three players are in a tie for ninth place with Sweden’s Sara Kjellker alongside Danish duo Amalie Leth-Nissen and Smilla Tarning Soenderby on one-under-par.

Sweden’s Lisa Pettersson had an excellent highlight in her first round of the new season as she recorded her first-ever hole-in-one on the par-three eighth.

The second round begins at 8am and there will be a cut to the top-60 professionals and ties at the end of day two.