Three months past her 14th birthday, teen sensation Avani Prashanth announced her arrival on the big stage with a stunning victory on the Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour early this year. Besides the top pros in the country, the field also included Diksha Dagar, a regular on the Ladies European Tour. After rounds of 67, 70 and 67, the Bengaluru amateur was the last one standing on the final day at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club. Diksha, a winner on the LET, was 23 shots behind. Avani proved that the victory was not a flash in the pan by putting the pros in the shade for a second time, a week past her 15th birthday last month. She even shot a stunning six-under 66 in the second round, her lowest round in a tournament. Her second title reaffirms that Avani belongs in the big league. The precocious talent has been shooting some unbelievably low scores with regularity that had the connoisseurs sit up and take notice of her potential. Long before announcing her arrival, the teenager won six of the eight events in Category ‘C’ (13-14 years) on the IGU Circuit in 2019 before the pandemic put an end to sporting activities in March 2020. Avani is probably the biggest thing to happen to women’s golf in the country after Aditi Ashok, who became a household name after her heroics at the Tokyo Games, where she missed an Olympic medal by a stroke. Still at least a year to go before she turns pro, Avani has already set her sights on the Paris gold in 2024. “I want to represent India at the 2024 Olympics, and winning gold for the country is my main goal,” Avani told TOI recently. “I want to be on the LPGA and be the girl with the most Majors,” she added. While her Paris dream is a little over two-and-a-half years away, Avani, who started playing at the age of three years and 10 months, is looking forward to making her maiden appearance in India colours a memorable one. She, along with five other Indians, will figure in the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Golf Championships (WAAP) that gets under way at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Wednesday. “I am super excited and have been looking forward to this ever since Covid-19 came. Throughout the lockdown, I was preparing to get into the Indian squad,” Avani said. Once the courses opened up and tournaments got under way, the youngster let her clubs do the talking with a clutch of impressive scores, which will stand her in good stead in the prestigious tournament. “I have come back from a good set of tournaments that I have shot good scores in and I’m in a positive frame of mind,” the youngster said. “I have been working on my short game and my long game a lot, and I feel pretty confident for WAAP,” added Avani, who is No. 161 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, second only to Sneha Singh (153) among the Indians. Even though there are 25 golfers ranked above her in the field, the ninth standard student of Greenwood High International School is unperturbed. “It will be like a fun test against them,” said Avani, who is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game in the country, and who could probably outhit boys her age. The winner at the four-day event in Abu Dhabi gets an invitation into two Majors, British Open and the Evian Championship. “It actually makes it that much more exciting and more fun to play,” said Avani. Having got a feel of the course in the two practice rounds, the teen wonder can’t wait for the tournament to get started.
Avani gears up to shine on the big stage | Golf News