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
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
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.