Carnoustie, 22 July 2018: We had sunshine. There was rain, pelting down mercilessly on Friday morning. And then came the wind on Sunday. Shubhankar Sharma applied himself with great poise and determination for most of those undulating swings at the Carnoustie Golf Links to cap a memorable debut at his favourite major tournament. The result may not have resonated with his dreams but the lessons learnt will help Shubhankar evolve into the golfer he can be on the journey ahead.
Shubhankar was playing some clean, confident golf on Sunday. The young man has unbridled ambition and rock-solid belief. He knew that an even 71 does not cut it at this level when the Open Championship conditions and course were perhaps at their friendly best.
He came out swinging in the final round and was making it stick. It was spectacular to watch. Shubhankar made birdies on the third and fifth holes. At the third, he nailed an approach so well, the ball landed, took back spin and settled just a few feet from the pin. His irons were on song and another brilliant second shot at the fifth left him a mere five feet for birdie.
As he reached the eighth tee, Shubhankar was even overall and set for the charge.
Unfortunately for the young man, the clock and a bad roll took away all the momentum. The tee shot at the eighth caught the knob on the right and rolled into a swale.
Shubhankar chipped out but the ball rolled over to the other edge of the green. He needed two putts from there to take his first bogey of the day. And just at that opportune time a rules official tapped Shubhankar and suggested that he hasten his game.
Shubhankar continued to play brilliant golf, giving himself birdie chances at both nine and ten. His birdie putts rolled agonisingly close to the lip pn both occasions. His energy was also dissipating in an ongoing conversation about what the golfer felt was an unjust call on the time spent.
“It was a tough finish for me but I started off well. I was hitting it well and then I lost my concentration in the middle and made some bogeys,” admitted Shubhankar. “I was trying hard to get the momentum back towards the end of the round.”
At the eleventh, Shubhankar found the bunker, left of the pin. Soon he was back to even for the day. Bogeys at the par-3 13 and the 15thhole pushed him back to two over for the day. He did have a birdie opportunity at the 18thbut the putt rolled by, leaving him a card of 73.
“I was happy to give myself a birdie putt on the last even though I didn’t make it,” he added. “I kept trying till the end. It’s a great tournament and definitely a good learning curve for me.”
The lessons were aplenty. His temperament on Friday when he was seemingly down and out was nothing short of incredible. That round alone should rank among the finest efforts ever by an Indian golfer in major championship golf.
The manner in which he absorbed and applied the lessons of the first day and the turmoil of the front nine on Friday, under pelting rain should hold him in good stead for a long time to come.
The biggest takeaway might, in fact, be his experience on Sunday. He was looking supremely good through the first third of that round before he lost his concentration and allowed the moment to slip away from his grasp.
A memorable birthday, a first full major week and plenty of valuable lessons should make this one of the most important weeks of his nascent career. You can be certain that this is one man that grows tall in the years to come. It will be a worthy ride for every golf fan in the country.