The country’s biggest star had a comparatively dull year but his established male colleagues ensured Indian golf enjoyed another brilliant outing while a female teenage sensation created waves with some dazzling performances. The top-ranked Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri, finding his feet on the gruelling PGA Tour, failed to post a single victory for the first time in six years but SSP Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar, with two wins each, and PGTI legend Mukesh Kumar, with his maiden international title, made it a year of rich returns.
The biggest story of the year though was the sensational rise of 18-year-old Aditi Ashok. Aditi, who signed off last year on a high after becoming the first ever Indian (male or female) to win a Q-School event (Ladies European Tour), stole the show yet again .A trend-setter since her pre-teen days, Aditi started the season on a sedate note but as the year wore on she kept scaling one peak after another to leave everyone in awe of her talent and determination. It all started at the Rio Olympics in August. Having attracted plenty of eyeballs with her Q-School triumph, Aditi left the great Brazilian city with her reputation and confidence enhanced though she didn’t win a medal.She started brilliantly with rounds of 68 and 68 to raise hopes of a medal but suffered a rare meltdown to card 79 and 76 to settle for a tied 41st finish. From there on, Aditi was almost unstoppable as she tamed the fairways and greens in ways few imagined.She finished tied ninth at the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters, then ended sixth at the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana Femenino, signed off tied 10th at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France before securing an eighth place at the Xiamen International Open. The four successive top-10 finishes – something which even male pros don’t achieve often – boosted her morale big time and Aditi capped it by lifting the Hero Women’s Indian Open, opening a new chapter for women’s golf in the country. Even before the euphoria could subside, she travelled to Doha to ace the Qatar Ladies Open and then ended third in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. She not only picked up the LET Rookie of the Year award but finished second in money list and rose to 111 in the world rankings. The only disappointment was her inability to secure a full card on the LPGA, ending tied 24th in the Q-School and gaining access to limited events. Lahiri, the standout performer over the last few years, struggled on his maiden season in America owing to fatigue. He missed cuts at two of the Majors and slipped to 77 in world rankings but found his range towards the end of the year, offering enough evidence of his class. At the Venetian Macau Open in October he lost in a play-off to Pavit Tangkamolprasert and a week later blew a four-shot final round lead to finish tied third at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, missing a great chance to join Arjun Atwal as a PGA Tour winner.It was a great year for Lahiri’s friend Gaganjeet Bhullar, who had fallen off the radar following a career-threatening wrist injury. Considered the next big thing at the start of this decade, Bhullar had gone winless since December 2013 but he ended that barren run with a brilliant triumph in testing conditions at the Shinhan Donghae Open in October. With his mojo back, the 28-year-old added a seventh Asian Tour title to his kitty when he aced the Bank BRI-JCB Indonesia Open last month.The ever-smiling S S P Chawrasia, who competed at the Rio Olympics along with Lahiri, also notched up two wins – Hero Indian Open and Resorts World Manila Masters – to prove that he’s still a force to reckon with.The 51-year-old Mukesh, who has scored over 100 wins on the PGTI, savoured the finest moment of his career when he topped the Panasonic Open India to claim his maiden continental title.Next-gen hopefuls Rashid Khan, S Chikkarangappa and Shubhankar Sharma gave a good account of themselves while Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi and Vani Kapoor gained playing rights on the LET, laying the icing on a wonderful year for Indian golf.

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