Mcllroy invites Shubhankar for practice round before Augusta Masters

When Shubhankar was informed about Mcllroy’s invitation, the Indian smiled.

Shubhankar Sharma burst onto the scene with a win at the Joburg Open, in December 2017, to qualify for The Open Championship. (File Photo)   -  Getty Images

Rising Indian golfer, Shubhankar Sharma, continues to live a dream as four-time major champion and former world no. 1, Rory Mcllroy, has extended an invitation to him for a practice round at the Augusta National Golf Club, before the Masters begins in April. When Shubhankar was informed about Mcllroy’s invitation, the Indian smiled.

“I got to know now, I am very happy. He is an idol of me and I would love to play a practice round with him. Let’s see when I get there. I have never met him, but obviously have seen him. We have played in the same tournament in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and followed him for many many years. So, it would be nice,” Shubhankar said.

Mcllroy, who is playing this week at Valspar Championships on the PGA Tour, said, “I’ve been able to watch a little bit of him on TV. Obviously, he’s won a couple times on the European Tour, had a good chance to win and played in the final group last Sunday with Phil Mickelson.”

READ: Shubhankar Sharma to compete in Augusta Masters

“Playing in the Masters will be a great experience and my best advice for him is to just embrace the week and have fun and enjoy yourself. The more you can do that, the more Augusta lends itself to letting you just play. If you just go out and play and be creative and sort of use your imagination, you can have a really great week. So it’s great to see it and great that Augusta afforded Sharma an invitation,” Mcllroy said at Palm Harbor, Florida.

And when asked if he would be happy to play a Masters practice round in the company of Sharma, Mcllroy happily agreed. “Yeah. Yeah, like I’m — I got a game arranged on Monday and — yeah, of course I would love to have him join me for a practice round. I always try to play with some of the guys to play a practice round. I don’t know if they want to pick my brain or someone else’s,” said Mcllroy.

After revealing that he played two days of practice last week at the Augusta National, Mcllroy’s advice to Sharma was timely as he was asked to recall his first experience of being at Augusta National in 2009, when he was a month shy of his 21st birthday in 2009.

ALSO READ: Shubhankar Sharma climbs to 66th spot in world golf ranking

“I felt the first time I was there at Augusta, it was not the enthusiasm or being anxious, but I was intimidated by the place. That was my feeling of being at Augusta. But, the more I’ve gotten to know the staff and I’ve gotten to know the caddies, I’ve also gotten to know quite a lot of members. Thus, it’s not so intimidating anymore,” said Mcllroy.

“So, I feel a lot more comfortable, not just playing in the golf course, but just in the grounds. That can be quite an unnerving place the first time you go. I’m a lot more comfortable there.”

Shubhankar burst onto the scene with a win at the Joburg Open, in December 2017, to qualify for The Open Championship. He then clinched the Maybank Championship by two strokes at Malaysia for his second European Tour title.

ALSO READ: Shubhankar finishes tied-9th at WGC Mexico Championship

The 21-year-old then held the 54-hole lead at his first World Golf Championship last week, before ending the tournament at a creditable tied ninth. His exploits earned him a special invite to the Masters in April.

Currently playing at the 54th Hero Indian Open, Shubhankar made an amazing recovery after being five over at the turn to return with one-over after the first round at the DLF golf course here.