Shubhankar Sharma all set to be part of European Tour next week

Shubhankar would be looking to “pick up the threads” when he heads to Birmingham, England, for the Hero Open.

Shubhankar Sharma tees off at the Turkish Airlines Open in November, 2019. Shubhankar will be playing his first tournament since the first week of March.   -  Getty Images

India’s Shubhakar Sharma would be looking to “pick up the threads” after the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when he heads to England next week for the Hero Open in Birmingham.

Sharma, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, leaves early next week and will be in time for the start of Hero Open on Thursday. The second event of the UK Swing, which got underway with the Betfred British Masters this week, will be held at the Forest of Arden Mariott Hotel and Country Club in Birmingham.

“I am quite excited and pumped up by the prospect and plan to play all five remaining events in the six-event UK Swing,” said Sharma.

“It’s been a long time since I competed in the Middle East Swing at the start of the year. My last event was the Qatar Masters in the first week of March. Since then world golf has stopped, though it recently re-started in U.S. and now U.K. So, it will be good to see some action after a lot of preparation and rest at home,” he added.

Sharma, who at one stage was in the running for an Olympic spot, has now dropped from his world rankings to 311 this week.

“Honestly, we were all looking at the Hero Indian Open and other European Tour events, but then COVID-19 put an end to all those plans. Now it will be nice to pick up the threads,” he said.

The Hero Open carries a purse of EUR 1 million.

Sharma says he is not thinking about the prize purses.

‘A good step’

“The key is getting an opportunity to play. As professionals, that’s our job. We do not have work-from-home for golf,” he said with a laugh. “We need to get to the course and the European Tour has done a great job by building a secure bubble for our safety. It is now for us to follow and stay safe,” he said.

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As for the issue of crowds, he added, “It is what it is. That (crowds) will also come gradually. Till then we must first start having golf. So, this is a good step and thanks to European Tour for having created a schedule for us.”

Sharma has been training with his coach, Jesse Grewal, in Chandigarh but in Europe he will have former professional Gurbaaz Mann, who is also a coach, on the bag. “Baaz and I have great camaraderie. He was with me in WGC-Mexico, where I led and finally finished Top-10. He knows my game and we often play together. So it will be great to have him around,” he explained.

On how he spent the past four months, the youngster said it was devoted to family. “It was a lot of time with family which we don’t get when the season is in full flow. Lot of home food by Mom, which I love, but needed to get it off in training; and of course, when the courses opened I have trained with my coach and playing partners like Karandeep Kocchar and others.

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“It was special being around with Dad and Mom and my sister, Vandini, who wrote a special poem for me on my birthday recently. It was just great and something to cherish,” he said.

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