By Jeff Babineau

LPGA player Aditi Ashok of India won’t have to find a phone to reach her father long-distance this Father’s Day. He’ll be walking in her gallery at Blythefield Country Club as she competes at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give.

Usually, Ashok Gudlamani, Aditi’s father, is by his daughter’s side, working as her caddie. But this being her sixth consecutive event, and with a major (KPMG Women’s PGA) looming next week, she gave her dad the week off. She has Jay Davey on the bag.

With Father’s Day arriving on Sunday, Aditi said she and her father have worked hard at their on-course relationship, making sure to keep it player/caddie, and not father/daughter. Aditi is trying to become the first player from India to win on the LPGA. She already has won on the Ladies European Tour, and a few weeks ago lost in a playoff at the LPGA’s JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro in Los Angeles.

She, her father and her mother, Mash, all took up the game at the same time, when Aditi, now 28, was 5. At the time, there were three golf courses in Bangalore, where they are from. Aditi used to eat at a restaurant that overlooked a driving range, and one day, her curiosity got the best of her. Her dad asked her, “Do you want to give it a try?”

She continues to improve on the LPGA, getting closer to breaking into the top 50 in the world, and has represented India twice at the Olympics. Her dad caddied for her in Rio de Janeiro in 2016; her mom was on the bag in Tokyo in the summer of 2021 for the Covid-delayed 2020 Games. Aditi just missed a medal, finishing fourth.

Without her dad on the bag this week in Michigan, Ashok played her first two rounds (68-67) bogey-free, “so I kind of rub that in his face a little bit,” she said, smiling.

“I think apart from myself, I think he knows my game the best,” Aditi said. “In some situations he probably knows it better than me. That’s what’s helped I think with him being my caddie, especially the previous three, four weeks where I’ve been in contention.

“He’s been obviously great. I probably wouldn’t be here if not for him. Yeah, I’m happy I’m playing well Father’s Day weekend.”