Shubhankar: 'It's every golfer's dream to play in the Masters'

Two European Tour titles and an incredible tied-ninth finish in the World Golf Championship Mexico Open, have given a new identity to this 21-year-old.

Shubhankar Sharma has accepted the invitation to play in next month’s Masters.   -  Special Arrangement

In less than three months, Shubhankar Sharma has gained significantly in status and stature. Two European Tour titles and an incredible tied-ninth finish in the World Golf Championship Mexico Open, have given a new identity to this 21-year-old.

Having earned a spot in The Open by virtue of winning the Joburg Open in December, Shubhankar received an invitation on Tuesday evening for next month’s Masters, making him the youngest Indian to make his Major-debut at the hallowed Augusta National Golf Club.

Five years after turning pro at 16, Shubhankar is back on his home course for the $1.75 Hero Indian Open and that, too, as the current leader of the European Tour money-list.

Read: All eyes on Shubhankar as India looks to retain Hero Indian Open crown

On Wednesday, in his own admission, Shubhankar was enjoying all the adulation but surprised why he was suddenly labelled as one of the contenders despite finishing 17th, 37th and 40th in the last three appearances in the premier event.

“I don’t think I’m the top contender, as I haven’t won the tournament before. Playing here actually has less pressure on him compared to last week, because I’m playing here at home,” he said.

On getting the Masters’ invitation, Shubhankar said, “I was quite tough on myself throughout the flight back to India, as I didn’t finish the tournament the way I wanted it, but as soon as I got the call, all the pain got washed away. I’m really happy to be able to play in the Masters. It’s every golfer’s dream to play in the Masters, and I’m no exception. Although, I have to say, The Open is my favourite Major, although you cannot compare Major tournaments.”

Consider this: Just before Shubhankar scripted his breakthrough triumph in the Joburg Open in December, his ranking was a distant 462. The success in the Maybank Championship last month raised it to 72. And this week, after he led by two shots after 54-holes of his maiden PGA Tour event in Mexico past weekend, Shubhankar finds himself at career-best 66!

“For a start, I wasn’t even sure if I was even going to play in the Joburg Open. Even after my win, I was just trying to play as much as I can. I wanted to show everyone that my win in South Africa wasn’t a fluke. Then I managed to win the Maybank Championship, which was obviously good.”

Not many realise that Shubhankar heads the European Tour’s Race To Dubai (Order of Merit) with a whopping 930.074 points, way ahead of next best, Tommy Fleetwood, who is at 755.254.

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