Diksha wins in Europe

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Diksha Dagar dominated the field to register a win by four-strokes in Czechia

For the first time in a single season, India has two winners on the Ladies European Tour. 22 year old Diksha Dagar from Haryana cruised to victory in the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open at the Royal Beroun Golf Club on Sunday to join Bangalore’s 25 year old Aditi Ashok, who won the Ladies Kenya Open in February. 

Dagar finished at 13-under with rounds of 69-65-69 to win by four shots over fast charging Thailand’s Trichat Cheenglab who played her last 9 holes in 6 under par to post the clubhouse leading total of 9 under par at a time when Diksha was at -11, only two ahead. 

Dagar started Sunday with a five-shot lead following a flawless 7 under 65 on Saturday and she began her final round with six straight pars before birdieing the seventh and ninth. Her only hiccup came with a bogey on the 10th, but she made a 15ft putt for birdie on the par-5 15th and a tough up-and-down for par on the 16th to stay three in front.

.“I saw the scoreboard on the 16th, and I thought, thank God I made a birdie on the 15th,” Dagar said after her win. “I faced a difficult chip on 16 and after I made a par there, I thought, with two holes to go and a three-shot lead, I can finally breathe a little more easily.”

A tap in birdie on the 18th after another well played chip shot provided the final

margin of victory.

Dagar had one individual title on the LET as she won the Investec South African Women’s Open in 2019 at the age of 18, her debut year. Its been a long time since then and times have been tough.

She said to win for the second time required a change to her lifestyle. She stopped staying up late to watch TV and movies so she could get more sleep.

“My key to success was just following the routine. I have worked on my putting skills

and also been getting a lot of sleep, which keeps you focused,” Dagar said.

With the win, Dagar has secured her LET playing rights for 2024 and 2025 and moved to fifth in the race to LET’s Costa del Sol rankings. With Ashok still lying second in the LET rankings, India has two players in the top-5 for the first time.

It’s not been easy for Dagar, who stands 5 ft 8 inches tall and averages 253 yards off the tee this season.  She started wearing hearing aids at the age of six and when she took up golf a year later, her family struggled to find a coach who was equipped to work with a differently-abled person. Her father, Col Narinder Dagar, a former scratch golfer, then stepped in to coach his daughter. The arrangement worked, as Dagar became India’s top-ranked amateur golfer in 2015.

She went on to represent India on the global stage at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics. 2017 was the first year golf was part of the Deaf Games and Dagar won a silver medal. A year later she represented India again at the 2018 Asian Games. That’s when Amandeep Johl, who was the national coach for the Indian golf team for the Asian Games, began to work with her after which she won almost immediately in March 2019 in South Africa.

“My first win just happened and for this event, I really worked hard for this,” Dagar said. “For the last three weeks, I was very close to a win, and it has finally happened. I feel so happy to be part of the winner’s circle again. It has given me confidence and I finally believe in myself that, yes, I can do it.”

Her win earned her 45,000 euros which brings her total for 2023 to 83,178 euros from 12 events. That’s already more than the 60,050 euros she earned in 2022 from 23 events and more than three times the 26,184 euros she earned in 2021 from 11 events. One mitigating factor for Dagar is that she had dealt with back problems over the last couple of years but she seems to have fully recovered now.

The years in between her professional victories were not a complete drought for Dagar. She represented India again in the 2012 Summer Deaflympics and this time went all the way and won gold in the individual event, beating USA’s Ashlyn Grace in the final. In the process, she became the first golfer to win two medals in the Deaflympics. She also represented India at the 2020 Olympic Games after receiving a late invitation. That made her the first golfer ever to participate in both the Olympics and Deaflympics.

Dagar is currently focused on qualifying for the 2024 Olympic Games. Her win moved her up 70 places in the Rolex World rankings to 270 and joins Aditi among the top 60 in the Olympics ranking. However, she still has a year to go for Paris 2024 and time will tell whether she will consolidate that position. 

But with Diksha on a hot streak for the past 6 weeks, her prospects of a 2nd Olympic appearance have become so much better.  

 


Credits:-
Photo – LET Flickr


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