European Tour

Sharma buoyed by Masters invite at home open

2018-03-07 17:12
Shubhankar Sharma (Getty Images)

Cape Town - India's latest golf star has arrived at the Indian Open with a spring in his step after accepting an invite to compete at this year's Masters Tournament.

READ: Indian star earns Masters invite

Shubhankar Sharma has had a sensational year so far and currently tops the Race to Dubai Rankings after winning his first two European Tour titles, and securing a top ten finish at his maiden World Golf Championship event in Mexico last week.

He doesn't rate himself as the top contender at Delhi's DLF Golf and Country Club this week, but his countrymen have been quick to heap praise on the 21-year-old.

He will be part of one of the strongest home contingents ever assembled at the Indian Open, which includes defending champion SSP Chawrasia - who could secure a record third consecutive win this year - and 2015 winner Anirban Lahiri.

"The Indian Open is very close to my heart. I witnessed every Indian Open before I turned professional. It has always been a dream for me to win it. I'm really looking forward to it. I don't think I'm the top contender, as I haven't won the tournament before. After last week, I got a lot of attention. Playing here actually has less pressure compared to last week, because I'm playing here at home," said Sharma.

"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 is obviously good. It has been a big learning experience for me."

Sharma admits he was slightly disappointed to finish ninth at the WGC-Mexico Championship after leading going into the final round, but the invite to compete at Augusta National has lifted his spirits, and he is confident about his prospects at his first Major.

"I think in golf, anything is possible, you have play well for four days, you can definitely compete with the best. I know that if I play my best, I'm good for a top five, or even a win at the Masters Tournament. I'm really looking forward to it," said Sharma.

"I was quite tough on myself throughout the flight back to India, as I didn't finish the tournament the way I wanted, 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 Tournament. It's every golfer's dream to play in the Masters, and I'm no exception."

Meanwhile Chawrasia, who has four runner up places at this event in addition to his two wins, said that he is focused on retaining his title in Delhi this week, but has one eye on improving his form in Europe after winning all four of his European Tour titles so far in his homeland.

He has been grouped alongside Lahiri, his good friend and rival on the course, with the two local favourites teeing it up alongside recent European Tour winner Wade Ormsby of Australia on Thursday.

Read more on:    european tour  |  shubhankar sharma  |  golf
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