04 February, 2018: It was another special day for Shubhankar Sharma and for Indian golf. Understandably, the 21 year old Indian was over the moon. Read on and enjoy these thoughts from the champion golfer with a bright future.
On the final round
I played pretty solid and it wasn’t easy because it was windy. I kept pushing the whole day. I knew I had to make a lot birdies to catch the leaders. I made a lot of birdies in the front nine and just continued on the back.
To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the leaderboard. I wanted to set a target in my mind and try to achieve it. On the 13th I knew I was somewhere near the leaders but on 16 I knew I had a two-shot lead. I told myself if I can make two more birdies, that would give me a good chance to win.
On a changing life and the pressures of winning
The last two months have changed my life. I’ve been a member on the Asian Tour for a while and I will continue to be a member on the Asian Tour. I’ve always dreamt of winning and now I’m a two-time winner on the Asian Tour and European Tour.
I didn’t make a birdie on the first hole which is quite disappointing because that’s quite an easy hole. I wasn’t putting too well just the way I was driving the ball I knew The win in Joburg helped a lot. Especially today, I was very calm on the course. I wasn’t under any pressure.
I didn’t make a bogey at all and it is very rare because you usually end up slipping after making birdies. I played really well, especially with the way I started. It is always tough to make birdies when you are trailing the leaders but I relaxed.
On the road ahead and playing the Open
I’m over the moon. The last two months have been fantastic for me. I’m playing in The Open championship this year so I can’t ask for anything more. Whatever happened today was fantastic.
I had a few 10-under-pars before. I shot my first one in the Philippines two years ago to safe my Asian Tour card and I shot another one before winning the Joburg Open. I made a brilliant birdie on the nine. I pushed my tee shot to the right but I hit a brilliant second shot holed my birdie from about 15 feet.
On the 16th hole I saw the leaderboard and I had a two-shot lead so I told myself I needed one more birdie and I made a very nice birdie on 17. On 18, my ball was in the greenside bunker and the easiest up-and-down to make. I was just telling myself ‘don’t mess this up, don’t duff it or top it.’
On the chance to win the Order of Merit
It is still early in the season and I haven’t thought about winning the Habitat for Humanity Standings. I’m also leading in the Race to Dubai but I’m not thinking about it because there are so many events left. If I play well enough, I will have a good chance to win the Habitat for Humanity Standings. This win is great because it opens so many doors for me. I’m also playing in The Open so I’m excited about that. All and all, it is a great day.
On his affinity for the Maybank Championship
This is a very special golf course. I finished tied ninth here last year and it was my first Maybank Championship and best result in a co-sanctioned event. I kept my Asian Tour card here because of this result here. Obviously, I love the course. It wasn’t easy today because it was very windy but this course suits my eye.
More power to Asian Golf
Gavin (Green) is a great friend. We know each other for three years now. He is a great guy and he is obviously a Maybank Ambassador and the reigning Order of Merit champion. He is a great guy and a great player. We’ve been good friends and he will also be playing on the European Tour so I will have some good company.
More and more players are coming out of Asia and India. More Asian players are doing well. You’ve had players like Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Anirban Lahiri. Just seeing them do well inspire us. Especially me winning now will inspire some kids so we need more idols to inspire more people and give them the confidence that they can do it as well. Asian golf is in the right hands and it is doing very well. You will see more and more Asian players winning in Europe.
On his expectations before the final round
No, not at all. I never thought I would win today. In a way that’s good because I was four shots off the leaders. The best thing was that I wasn’t in the leader group. I didn’t go in with the mind-set to win but I went in with the mind-set to shoot a low round. That really helped me today. I had a good feeling I would play well and shoot a low number and that’s what I did.
On his journey into golf
My dad was in the army and we pretty much went all over the place in India. We were in many places. Dad used to be posted all around and we as a family followed him. I got into the game when I was seven. I turned professional when I was still in school. My dad is one of the biggest reasons that I could take this step. He has been a great inspiration. I’m 21 but this is my sixth season as a professional. I already feel like a veteran.
The scent of victory
Both my wins now are very special. Joburg Open was obviously my first win and it was a different atmosphere because I was the only Indian there. It was very calm. I was more in the zone. The first wins are always special. I was leading going into the final round of the Joburg Open so I was expected to win. Today, I had no expectations. I didn’t even know I was going to win until the 16th leaderboard. Both wins are different but very special.