Shubhankar Sharma scores a big top ten; Brian Harman wins the Open Championship

The 151st Open was marked by brilliance all around. If Brian Harman was all on his own at 13-under 271, Shubhankar Sharma was the only golfer to play bogey free on Sunday

Shubhankar Sharma

Hoylake, 23 July 2023: In one of his finest performances yet, Shubhankar Sharma showed enormous grit and patience to get the better of the Hoylake course one last time on Sunday. He extracted a bogey-free 70, as they say at the Open, Forged by Nature. On a wet and windy day at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Shubhankar stood tall and mighty to complete an Open week of the highest order. At 5-under he finished T8 with Cameron Young. Brian Harman erased the painful memories of the 2017 US Open when he squandered a big lead by winning in emphatic style, leagues ahead of his hapless rivals.

Brian Harman marched solo to a six-stroke victory as the rest of the field battled for second. Harman shot a determined 70 in the final round, making light of early bogeys at two and five for a memorable win. He is the first golfer since Henry Cotton in 1934 to lead the Open by at least five strokes between the second and final rounds. He also took just 106 putts all week, three fewer than Todd Hamilton in 2004.

Jason Day battled all day to ensure that he did not slip away. And he succeeded. He shot 69 to finish second with Jon Rahm, Tom Kim, and Sepp Straka. They were all 7-under, six adrift from the runaway champion. Emiliano Grillo and Rory McIlroy did enough to finish in T6, a further stroke back.

But the big news from Hoylake was the performance of Shubhankar Sharma. He played his heart out this week. Despite getting into stressful situations in the fescue or off the green on multiple occasions, he managed to get up and down saving pars by the dozen to produce one of the best weeks for Indian golf. Anirban Lahiri finished T5 at the 2015 PGA Championship. While one might be tempted to make absolute numerical comparisons, it might be best to celebrate each for its unique value to Indian golf. One has witnessed both performances in person and can vouch for their incomparable genius. First, for reasons of golf, and second, the context of the two iconic courses on which Indian golf has enjoyed these two performances.

On Sunday, Shubhankar was a lone ranger. As everyone around him was leaking bogeys, he found the courage and calm needed to let his clubs and mind deal with the chess like challenges that faced him on a tricky course made even more difficult by a pouring rain.

“Yeah, just played out of my skin. I grinded from the first hole. I don’t remember the last time I’ve hit so many long irons into par-4s, 2-irons, 4-irons, 5-irons all day, and I struck them brilliantly, so really proud of myself the way I handled myself on the course,” he told us after the round.

“Front nine was slightly edgy some places. I did well to make up-and-down and make pars, but back nine was just incredible ball-striking. Everything was close. Everything in those conditions with 4-irons, 5-irons in, everything was 15 to 20 feet; some were like four, five feet. I missed a four-footer, five-footer, six footer on the par-3s. Really happy. Very pleased with the way I played, and yeah, gives me a lot of confidence.”