10 November 2019: The power of adversity, has a unique role in the development of a human being, especially so in the case of athletes. Early on during an eventful third round at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal resort in Belek, Shubhankar Sharma wound himself into a rough patch. Conceding five strokes in three holes, Sharma slipped down the order after starting just two behind the leader. But it was a run of play, that forged his will for a sensational run through the rest of his journey in Turkey.
After dropping to 5-under after seven holes in the third round, Shubhankar rose from the ashes to go 13-under through the next 29 holes to finish the week well inside the top ten, at 18-under 270. A patchy yet resolute 71 on Thursday, an emphatic 64 on Friday. Then came the phoenix like effort on Saturday for another 71 before the final flourish, again a 64 to cap a brilliant week.
The result is expected to push him inside the top 60 on the Race to Dubai, which means a good result next week in South Africa can still earn him a ticket to the prestigious DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Only the top 50 men are assured a spot in the tour finale.
As if on cue, yesterday, Shubhankar played with renewed purpose and determination as he got down to work, reversing the losses in a brilliantly mad frenzy. It was a stretch that held a mirror into the young man’s warrior like personality, with an ability to look adversity in the eye, perhaps even tame it. He did just that yesterday, when he fired five birdies in six holes from the eighth, soon after a double bogey on the 7th hole.
In the end he worked his way back to a one-under 71, a precious recovery from that shoddy mess between the fifth and seventh holes. On Sunday, Shubhankar continued marching up the bright alley. After pars at the first two holes, Shubhankar kissed the edge on the third. At the fourth, his ball collected dirt after it landed on the right fairway.
His second from there veered into the fringe off the green, as Shubhankar struggled to control the flight and spin on his dirty ball. He chipped it in from there – navigating past the ridge on the right of the pin, before curling left, just enough to catch the centre of the cup. It was a near 40 feet master stroke that brought his final round alive with possibility.
And a determined Shubhankar made the most of it. He made four straight birdies from the eighth as he forced his way back inside the top ten. A good result (finish inside the top 20) this week was necessary for the Indian to secure a spot in the Nedbank Challenge and this was the young man making a bold statement about the quality of his golf.
Shubhankar climbed further up the leaderboard, with a birdie at the 15th. When he made his final putt, an eight footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, it served to put the seal of brilliance on a sensational week for the young man from Chandigarh. The 23-year-old is third on the strokes gained approach
Meanwhile, Matthias Schwab, was in a dog fight for the win, with a bunch of men giving him the chase. Kurt Kitayama, consistent all week, was sitting pretty in the clubhouse, after posting a 64 on Sunday. At 20-under he is at the top of the leaderboard, with Schwab completing all but two holes. Victor Perez, Benjamin Hebert and Tyrrell Hatton are all tied in at 19-under with a small amount of business left to do as well.
We are set for a thrilling finish to the first of three season ending spectacles.