Shubhankar Becomes Youngest Indian Winner On The European Tour By Clinching The Joburg Open
Shubhankar Sharma dared what none of the other Indians could. He not only took up the challenge to compete in an event which was played on two courses with a massive 240-man field but also travelled from the eastern tip of Asia (Hong Kong) to the southern-most part of Africa (Johannesburg) enroute Mauritius.
To top it off, the weather gods were also pretty unkind before the only Indian in the field produced a brilliant, nerveless performance at the US$ 1.07 million Joburg Open to win his first European Tour title in just his 10th start.
Sharma entered the final round at the Randpark Golf Club with a 5-shot lead but had seen that cut to four when play was halted due to storms at 1 pm local time on Sunday, with his ball on the eighth green.
The overnight delay had no bearing on Sharma’s mind, who birdied the ninth and then parred his way home for a four-day tally of 23-under-par that gave him a 3-shot win over Erik van Rooyen of South Africa.
What the Tiger Woods fan achieved in the bargain was incredible to say the least. South Africans are tough nuts to crack on home soil. Further, the Chandigarh lad also excelled on Kikuyu grass, on which he had never played before. He is also praiseworthy for the way he handled his temperament after sleeping on a lead following a rain delay.
But the cherry on the cake was booking his maiden ticket to The British Open, the world’s oldest Major, to be held at Carnoustie (Scotland) from July 19 to 22.
“It feels absolutely wonderful to have won this week. I actually wasn’t going to come here about a week ago, so I’m really happy that I came. This is my first time in South Africa and I don’t think I’m ever going to forget this,” said an elated Sharma, who also became the youngest Indian to win a European Tour title bettering Anirban Lahiri, who had won the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2015 at the age of 27.
“I hit the ball good and I putted really well but the key up-and-downs I made over the first three days, I think I only missed two up-and-downs over the whole week. Even today, the up-and-downs I made on the tenth, the 13th and the 15th were very crucial. Once in a while you just have to make a few par saves to get a round going and I did just that the whole week.”
Golf Digest wishes Sharma much success in the upcoming season!
(Read more in the January issue of Golf Digest India. Download here.)