The Open: A dream come true for Shubhankar Sharma

The budding Indian star is “really excited” to be participating in The Open at Carnoustie this week.

Aiming high: Shubhankar Sharma of India takes a shot on a practice round ahead of the 147th Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland.   -  Getty Images

India’s Shubhankar Sharma will realise a dream when he makes his debut appearance at The 147th Open at Carnoustie, which gets underway on Thursday. The 21-year-old had made headlines by winning the Jo’burg Open in December, 2017, thereby earning a ticket to participate in what will be his third Major championship this year.

Looking back at that remarkable breakthrough on the Asian Tour, Sharma says, “That victory will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was my first win and I was literally playing ‘alone’ in South Africa. I will always remember the love and warmth I got from the local fans that week and, of course, the avenues it has opened up for me in life. Teeing it up for The Open is the best spin off. I am really excited to be here.”

“Playing in The Open has been my ‘only’ dream, at one point of time, when I started playing golf. I have watched all the past editions on television and I would keep replaying the videos until I feel as if I have been played in The Open before,” he adds.

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Two months after his maiden win in South Africa, where he was the only Indian in the 240-man field, Sharma went on to secure a second Asian Tour title at the lucrative Maybank Championship in Malaysia. In March, he claimed a top-10 finish in his World Golf Championships debut in Mexico. That finish earned him an invitation to The Masters where he made his Major debut. Sharma, who leads the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity standings with a current haul of USD 589,575, added another feather to his cap by earning his second Major appearance at the US Open after making the mark in the Qualifier.

‘Out-of-the-world experience’

“Playing in the Masters has been an out-of-the-world experience and the circumstances under which I got there, getting a sponsors’ invite, made it all the more beautiful. My whole family and friends were there with me, too. Qualifying for the US Open was also great, as I earned that by getting through the qualifier,” he says.

Sharma, the world’s highest-ranked Indian (87) on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), calls himself “extremely lucky” to gain opportunities for success. He said, “Both these experiences have been unique and enriching. I am extremely lucky that I am getting all these opportunities early in life.”

‘Positive’

Despite not making the cuts in his last two outings in Major championships, Sharma remains positive for the week ahead. “My game is all right at the moment. There are always small issues here and there in golf. Apart from that, I am good for the week and I am hoping to give a good account of myself out there. The Scottish Open last week was the first ever event I played on links course. The Open is going to be the second. I felt comfortable on the course last week. I assume Carnoustie is also going to be similar and I should come good. I am quite positive on my chances,” he sums up.

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Sharma adds, “Playing in Europe is different for the simple reason that the conditions are different from Asia. You have to play here to get the feel of everything. I am learning and I have done well so far.”

Sharma will be flying the Indian flag alongside 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Anirban Lahiri at golf’s oldest Major championship. He will also have his father Mohan Lal and his coach Jesse Grewal watching him from outside the ropes.

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