A Masters invite and breaking into Top-50, prime targets for 2-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma.
Long hailed as a ‘huge talent’ by leading Indian pros Jeev Milkha Singh and Shiv Kapur. Shubhankar Sharma’s rise has been meteoric in the last couple of months. to sa}r the least. Sharma won the Asian Tour co-sanctioned USS 3 million Maybank Championship with a stunning bogey free 10-under 62 in the final round for his second European Tour crown in 7 weeks’ time. The win propelled Shanna to top of the Race to Dubai and Habitat for Humanity standings. From ending the 2016 season at 517 to becoming the leading Indian golfer in the world at 72, four places ahead of PGA Tour regular Anirban Lahiri, the Jhansi-born golfer’s career is on the upward swing. Sharma also became just the third Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh (2006 – Volvo China Open and Volvo Masters) and Anirban Lahiri (2015 – Maybank Malaysia Open and Hero Indian Open) to win 2 European Tour events in the same season.
“I played pretty solid and it wasn’t easy because it was windy. I kept pushing the whole day. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the leaderboard. On the 13th I knew I was somewhere near the leaders but on 16 I knew I had a two-shot lead. I told myself ‘if I can make 2 more birdies, that would give me a good chance to win’.
“The last 2 months have changed my life. I’ve always dreamt of winning and now I’m a 2-time winner on the Asian Tour and European Tour… I have been very lucky that I never had a long spell when I played really bad or was out of form. At best it was 1 or 2 months and then I bounced back. I am thankful to DLF, TAKE Solutions and Indorama for having faith in my abilities. I never had to face any financial troubles in my career till now,” Sharma said after his triumph at Saujana Golf & Country Club.
It was just 4 years ago that Sharma had joined the Play-For-Pay ranks and his razor-sharp precision and calm demeanour started to pay him dividends on the greens. Expert advice from long-time coach Jesse Grewal helped him mature with every season and tips from technical advisor and former pro Gurbaaz Mann, who sometimes doubles up as caddie, enhanced his understanding of equipment that suits his game.
With fitness coach Sagar Dewan and nutritionist Ryan Fernando of Bengaluru on his side, the 21-year-old will be hoping to scorch the greens at Carnoustie Links course in Scotland in his maiden British Open appearance. His exploits have also earned him a place in the US$ 9.75 million World Golf Championship-Mexico Championship, a PGA Tour event, prompting renowned golf columnists to back him for getting a Masters invite. With the form Sharma is in, it’s highly unlikely he will require one though.
In an exclusive chat with Golf Digest India from his hometown Panchkula, Sharma spoke about a plethora of topics right from his early years to what his expectations are from 2018, Sharma will be playing in the NBO Oman Open and the Qatar Masters before hitting his home club DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon for the USS$1.75 million Hero India Open. Excerpts from an interview: