In her first year on the professional circuit and only on her fourth start in the famed Ladies European Tour, Diksha Dagar became just the second Indian woman golfer to win a title on Saturday.
The upcoming Indian golfer clinched the South African Open, scripting an incredible one-shot victory over three-time champion Lee Anne Pace with a bogey-free final round in Cape Town.
“I just went out today trying to play my normal game,” Dagar, who is hearing-impaired, told Ladies European Tour Tour website. The teen from Rohtak plays with a cochlear implant that helps her to hear at close-to-normal levels.
The 18-year-old Dagar was trailing by two shots heading into the final round, but pipped the much-experienced Pace with a three-under final round. She follows Aditi Ashok who became the first Indian to win on the LET in 2016. Aditi added two more LET wins and now plays on the LPGA.
“I really didn’t expect to win, but it happened and I am very happy. I got two lucky breaks towards the end, with a long birdie putt on 15 and then the chip-in on 16. Normally I would just try to chip it close and make the par putt, but this time I had a feeling I could do it and it went in,” she added.
Diksha also has ambitions of getting to the LPGA, which on current form looks a strong possibility. Dagar also played at the Women’s Hero Indian Open as an amateur and made the cut.
The winning moment for Dagar was all more the special as she had her father right next to her and the two broke out in celebration. Narinder Dagar, who served in the Army, was on the bag for his daughter. He helped her cope with the trauma of having hearing problems and she has been wearing hearing aids since the age of six.
A left-hander, Diksha is well-known for brand of aggressive and fearless golf. Her brother, Yogesh, who is also hearing impaired, plays golf and has been playing in age-group events.
The teenager, who came in off a long flight from Australia to Cape Town, where she was Tied-5th at the NSW Open last week, began the week with double bogeys in first three holes. She had one more bogey on the 12th hole and ended the first day with a 76 but scoring was tough on a windy day and she was still inside Top-20.
Thereafter she played the next 42 holes without a blemish and finished at five-under 211, while Pace (72) ended at four-under 212. She rose to second by the end of the second day and finally won the title on the final day.
Dagar trailed till late into the back nine. She started one behind and Lee-Anne pulled to two clear with a birdie on 11th but bogeyed the 13th to fall back to five-under.
Dagar birdied 15th and 16th and that helped her catch up leader Lee-Anne at five-under. The South African dropped another shot on 17th and Dagar stayed steady and one ahead. As both parred the final hole the Indian won the title.
Diksha Dagar on the Ladies European Tour
|Ladies Classic - Bonville||Tied 44th|
|Actewagl Canberra Classic||Tied 29th|
|Women's NSW Open||Tied 5th|
|Investec SA Women's Open||Winner|
Dagar, who turned 18 last December, is a silver medallist at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics. She is also a World Deaf Championship winner. She also had a stellar amateur career during which she also represented India at the 2018 Asian Games and won the 2018 Singapore Amateur title. She won a Pro event on the Indian domestic Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour.
Dagar turned professional in December last year after obtaining her LET card at Qualifying School.
The win in South Africa helped Dagar move up to fourth in the LET Order of Merit for the year as well as the top spot in the LET Rookie of Year Race. For now though, the teenager is keeping her feet on the ground. “My goal for the rest of the season is to just stay focused and take each tournament as it comes,” she told LET.
With inputs from PTI