Diksha grabs lead in Irish Open, Indian-American Gurleen lies second

Dublin (Ireland), Aug 31 (PTI) Diksha Dagar continued her brilliant run this season with a bogey-free 7-under 65, which gave her the sole lead on day one of the KPMG Irish Open in Dromoland.

The 22-year-old Rohtak golfer, who has one title, five top-10 finishes and a career-best finish in the Women’s Open, equalled her season’s best round of 65. She had recorded a 65 in the second round on way to winning the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open in June.

Diksha, currently fifth on the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit, is aiming to finish in the top-4 on the Merit list.

It is learnt that the top-4 on the Merit list will get an LPGA card, while the next 10 will get into the final stage of the LPGA Q-School. This bonus is acting as an extra motivation for Diksha, who stayed back in Belfast last week after finishing sixth in the ISPS Handa Invitational in Northern Ireland.

Diksha is being chased by Indian-American Gurleen Kaur, whose parents were born in India but emigrated to the US.

The 21-year-old Houston golfer shot 6-under 66 to share the second place with Frenchwoman Emma Grechi (66) at the Dromoland Castle Golf Club.

Ridhima Dilawari, who shot even-par 72, is tied-33rd.

Vani Kapoor and Tvesa Malik, playing on the LET after a long time, shot 73 each and are tied-63rd. Amandeep Drall shot 3-over 75 and is tied-109th.

Starting from the 10th tee, Diksha birdied on the the 11th, 12th, 15th and 16th. Then, birdies on the second, fifth and ninth — her closing hole — saw Diksha compile a bogey-free 7-under 65 that put her one ahead of the field.

“I spent the last week in Belfast to relax and it helped. I am happy to be playing some quality golf in a healthy golfing environment,” said Diksha.

“Some changes in equipment and greater focus and some good putting has helped me improve the scoring and the results show that.” Her father, Narender Dagar, who has been on the bag, added, “Diksha is no longer playing with the pressure of expectation. She is playing freely and enjoying her golf. She has worked very hard, and it has shown results as she has risen to fifth on the LET Order of Merit. One of her goals is another win and try to get to the LPGA next year.” After a slow start to the season, where she missed her first four starts, Diksha improved with finishes between the 37th and 49th in the individual segments of the next three events, which included two Aramco Series Team events.

The turning point came in Belgium, where she was tied-sixth. In four events, beginning with the Belgian, she finished in the top-8 in all four including a win in the Czech Republic.

It was her only triumph since the first one in 2019 in South Africa. She had a few more modest finishes before missing cuts at the Major, Evian and the Scottish Open.

She made up by finishing a creditable tied-21st at the AIG Women’s Open for her best result in a Major.

Last week Diksha achieved her best finish in an LPGA event at the ISPS Handa Invitational, co-sanctioned by LET and LPGA, where she was tied-sixth.

The Tokyo Olympian is also a near certainty for the 2024 Paris Games, as she continues to improve her current world ranking of 160.

What Diksha and her father avoid talking about is the possibility of topping the LET’s Order of Merit.

No Indian golfer has topped the Order of Merit in Europe. It would be a great feat for Diksha, who already has a gold and silver medal at the Deaflympics.

Source: PTI News


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