Oct 31, 2018: Shubhankar Sharma currently leads the race for the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award, but with three lucrative Rolex Series events to end the European Tour season, there is still much at stake for this year’s class of rookies.
After starting the season with a tied tenth finish at the UBS Hong Kong Open, Sharma only had to wait two more events for his first European Tour title, which he won at the Joburg Open, finishing three strokes ahead of South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen.
Just two months later he doubled his trophy tally at Saujana Golf & Country Club, winning the Maybank Championship at the start of February by two strokes from Spain’s Jorge Campillo.
After finishing ninth at the same event in 2017, Sharma started the final round four strokes behind 54-hole leaders Campillo and Dylan Frittelli. He carded a remarkable ten under par final round of 62 to take the title.
His impressive performances at the start of 2018 earned him an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National and he has since played the other three of the four Majors in 2018.
Hot on Sharma’s heels in the race for the Sir Henry Cotton Award is Australia’s Lucas Herbert, who enters the final three events of the season in a strong run of form. Although the 22 year old is still searching for a maiden European Tour title, he has a runner-up finish and three third-place results to his name this season.
In his last three events – the Portugal Masters, Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and Sky Sports British Masters – Herbert has finished no lower than seventh and is just 400,000 points behind Sharma, a gap which could certainly be closed over the next three weeks.
Also in the hunt is England’s Sam Horsfield. The 22 year old has three top five finishes this year, including an eye catching performance at the Sky Sports British Masters earlier this month.
Horsfield will need to replicate that form over the next three weeks if he is to close the 563,817 point gap between himself and Sharma.
The Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award is awarded to the leading player in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, in their first year as a Ranked or Affiliate Member of the European Tour – provided they have taken up Membership prior to May 1 in the season in question (or have won a tournament after this date and taken the subsequent Membership), have not played seven or more Race to Dubai Tournaments in a previous European Tour season, have not been a Member of another Federation Tour for more than five years or were not ranked in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking at the conclusion of the previous European Tour season.