Aditi's destination should be LPGA, says golf coach Leadbetter

Aditi AshokPune: World renowned golf coach David Leadbetter on Friday advised Indian teen sensation Aditi Ashok to try and gain full access to the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, through which she can become a "beacon" in Indian womens golf.

The 18-year-old Aditi managed to earn the United States-based Partial LPGA Tour membership for 2017 after finishing tied 24th in the qualifying event held in Florida last month.

The Bengaluru golfer enjoyed a phenomenal 2016 when she finished 41st in the Rio Olympic Games and claimed the second spot on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit.

Also read: Renowed coach Leadbetter inaugurates golf academy at Pune

She was also declared the LET's Rookie of the Year, thanks to her 10 top-10 finishes, including two historic triumphs on the Hero Women's Indian Open and Qatar Ladies Open in November -- among many firsts for an Indian woman.

But, Leadbetter, who has so far worked with 22 Major winners in the men's and women's competitions, has advised Aditi to dream big as she sees a big potential in her. Aditi can be a reference point in Indian golf, he felt.

"Aditi could be the beacon for Indian ladies golf. She has moved up (professionally) quickly and she has huge potential," the 64-year-old Englishman told reporters after inaugurating his first academy in India at the Oxford Golf Resort here.

"She is just 18 and she has the length and as gets stronger and improves her short game, she will be very good," he added.

"She needs to now go to the LPGA, where all the top players in the world play. That will help her become mentally and physically stronger."

Leadbetter also felt that Anirban Lahiri, who now plays in the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour in the US, can also be a role model for Indian youngsters.

"They (Anirban and Aditi) could be the role models or icons to attract other Indian youngsters. We (the Academy) are here to help young players to reap their potential," he said.

Lahiri, 29, finished a creditable tied fifth at the 2015 PGA Championship -- best performance by an Indian at the Majors.

He also qualified for the Rio Games last year, apart from featuring for the International Team, captained by three-time Major winner and Leadbetter's former student Nick Price against the US Team at the Presidents Cup.

"Lahiri also has good potential. He has proven that. Nick Price too spoke of him very highly. So, he can improve a lot," he said.