Carnoustie, 18 July 2018: If the Carnoustie Golf Links were offered as it is to a casting director, he might pick it to play a character that has two distinctly opposing shades. The greens pop out like oases, islands of prosperity in an otherwise desolate land. The ongoing drought in Scotland has clearly affected the links. The traditionalists might view it as another opportunity to relive the Open under the kind of conditions that prevailed before advanced course management systems took hold. But the modern golfer, spoilt by the comfort of parkland courses and more evenly paced links, the 147th Open Championship is set to pose some unique challenges.
Links golf often lends itself to experience and while Anirban Lahiri will have the experience of five other Opens on his bag, Shubhankar Sharma will have to depend on his instinct and ambition to guide himself this week.
21-year-old Shubhankar is happy with his preparations and ready to go in his third major and the first-ever Open Championship. The young man celebrates his 22nd birthday on Saturday and he would like nothing better than a great score this week to ice his cake.
Since arriving in Angus on Sunday, the young man has put in the hard yards needed to gain enough knowledge to prepare for the demanding task on hand. On Wednesday, Shubhankar read his lines one more time, playing the back nine to ensure he has all the information needed to play well on Thursday.
Shubhankar tees off in the company of Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau, giving himself a fantastic opportunity to witness a balanced combination of experience and creativity as he plays the first round of Open golf in his budding career. That should in itself offer him valuable lessons and treasured memories. He will get off the tee at 1940hrs IST on Thursday.
“The preparations are done. The course is in great shape. It is going to be a great Open Championship,” said Shubhankar. “It means a lot for me to follow in the footsteps of Indian greats like Gaurav Ghei, Jyoti Randhawa, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur at the Open. Anirban is here playing too, it is time for Indian golfers to contend at majors and the time is now. So I am really looking forward.”
Anirban is drawing confidence from his recent run of form. He has shown what he is capable with some spectacular golf in recent weeks. Anirban was also candid about conceding that he did not well enough when the course transformed radically over the weekend of the Greenbrier Classic. It should hold him in good stead when he gets off the blocks tomorrow at 1417hrs IST. Matt Kuchar and Peter Uihlein will keep him company through the first two rounds.
“It is not the typical Open, which used to be wet and cold so that makes me more comfortable. The course also reminds me a bit of the Delhi Golf Club, where one can keep hitting two-Irons and keep the ball in play,” Lahiri t.old the Asian Tour.
“It has not been the typical preparation for me. I usually play the Scottish Open and then The Open but this time, I came straight from the United States.
“Also for logistical reasons, I have played only 18 holes. Normally I would have played 36 by now. But having said that, I am still very comfortable in that I have not overplayed. There is no nervousness,” he added.
With the weather set to remain warm and sunny, the wind remains the greatest threat to the hopes of our men at this Open. Indian fans will hope that both men remain in the mix as the Open draws toward an exciting Sunday finish.