Jan 24, 2018: India’s Shubhankar Sharma, who was Asian Tour number one and the toast of Indian golf in 2018, will hope to turn his fortunes after last week’s missed cut, when he tees up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic held at the Emirates Golf Club.
Another Indian who will be looking at continuing to build on his 2018 successes will be Gaganjeet Bhullar, who returns to Dubai after a gap of five years. This time he does after a breakthrough win on the European Tour at the Fiji International last year. He will also be looking forward to improving on his creditable tied-27th finish last week in Abu Dhabi, a Rolex Series event on the European Tour.
There are more than a dozen Asian Tour players in the field. The prominent ones include Justin Harding of South Africa, who had four wins last year, of which two were on the Asian Tour. There is also Matt Wallace of England, whose three worldwide wins included the Hero Indian Open, and he was also second at the DP World Tour Championships, the season-ending event in Europe.
Asian Tour members like Shaun Norris of South Africa, who won once in Japan and was also second on the Japan Tour’s Order of Merit, American Kurt Kitayama, who had a breakthrough win in Mauritius, and David Lipsky, who won the Alfred Dunhill Championships in South Africa are in the fray.
Besides the above, there are also Gavin Green of Malaysia, Thai duo Phachara Khongwatmai and Thongchai Jaidee, Australia’s Scott Hend and Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, and Ernie Els, the Captain of the International Team for 2019 Presidents Cup and who is an honorary member of the Tour.
Bhullar, who was once ranked 85th in the world is also looking at getting back into the top-100 zone, and currently the second best Indian at 141, while Sharma is ranked 123rd.
Bhullar’s only appearance in Dubai was in 2014, when he missed the cut and this could be his chance to rectify that. “The game is good and I am looking forward to it. Last week was alright and let’s see how it goes this week,” said Bhullar.
“It was nice to win my maiden European Tour event in Fiji last year. I need to build on it now,” added Bhullar.
Last week Bhullar played all four rounds at par or better with 70-70-69-72 for a seven-under-par 281 total but Sharma however missed the cut.
Sharma, who played his first Dubai Desert Classic last year said: “The course is playing much longer this time. Last year it was dry and the ball was running a lot. Last year the cut was four-under but I don’t think it will be as much this time. Anyway, I am feeling confident. I worked on the game and physical fitness also as the season can get long towards the end.”
“But somehow I have not been able to play my best.I have missed the cut last two times, but right I am feeling more confident. Hopefully I will be able to get putting right and it has been my strength.” said S.S.P. Chawrasia, who had played here no less than six times and made the cut three times.