Twenty-year-old Ankita Tiwana, who was made the Women's Golf Association of India ‘Rookie of the Year,' has many other interests that keep her grounded..

“Initially, as a 12-year-old, I used to hate golf. But my father (Rajan Tiwana) insisted that I must continue with it. As I spent more and more time in the golf course, I started to like the sport,” said Ankita Tiwana, recently adjudged the Women's Golf Association of India (WGAI) ‘Rookie of the Year' for 2011-12.

Twenty-year-old Ankita carries the confidence of a typical Delhi girl, who can handle things with ease. The second year Delhi University student, pursuing her Honours in Political Science, is serious about both her studies and golf. She is proud enough to talk about her association with the Udaipur-based NGO Sanjhi in spreading environmental awareness and her interest in photography. One who could not make an impact at the junior level due to a back injury, Ankita travelled to the US to do her final two years in school as well as nurture her golfing skills. She did well in some local events in Florida before heading back home to play as an amateur.

Decent display

She turned in some decent performances before turning a pro last year. Though she did not win an event in 2011-12, she consistently improved her performance through the season. Riding on her third-place finish in the 10th leg of the Hero women's professional golf championship at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in February, Ankita finished sixth on the season-ending money list to bag the WGAI honour.

“RCGC is my favourite course. Apart from the third-place finish in the pro Tour event, I had done well in the East India amateur championship there,” said Ankita. In her first year, Ankita understood the hardships involved in the life of a professional golfer. “It is lot more competitive. It is a different ball game. You make a living out of it. An erratic shot costs you so much of money. But I like the pressure.”

Need for more sponsors

The stylish golfer said she would aim at returning lower scores to improve her position in the next season's Order of Merit. “I hope to card as many under-par scores as I can,” she said. She is hopeful that women's golf would become more competitive in India to attract more sponsors. “Hero is doing a good job by backing the women's Tour. In terms of individual sponsorship, we can do better. More sponsorship for the players will boost the game.” “So far, my mom and dad are my only sponsors…,” said Ankita with a hearty laugh. Ask her about her role models and she will mention a few names that you cannot ignore. “Tiger Woods, despite whatever happened,  is a path-breaker. I love watching Rory McIlroy. And I admire Smriti Mehra for her attitude.” Besides golf, life is as frolicsome for Ankita as for any other youngster. “I love dancing, eating, playing. I love playing in general and working out…..I was a 100m sprinter.” For Ankita, life is not about pondering too much on one's distant future. “I want to pursue my education. I want to do my Masters in the US. Over there, I can play golf in a lot of mini-Tours. I don't think too far ahead. I want to go step-by-step,” she said.

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