14 October 2018: India’s wait for a second PGA TOUR victory has to wait. Eight years since that memorable Wyndham Championship victory for Arjun Atwal, our boys continue to push ever closer to making a mark on the biggest golf tour on the planet.
Shubhankar Sharma, scenting victory yet again, fell just short after a patchy Sunday at the CIMB Classic. The Indian, battling like a true blood warrior, mustered all he could in a vain Sunday effort that saw him finish in T10 with an even 72. Marc Leishman won the title with a brilliant 65 in the final round.
It has been raining this week in Malaysia, but on a pleasant Sunday at TPC Kuala Lumpur, the only rain was from Leishman unleashing a barrage of birdies. Six birdies over the first ten holes all but sealed the deal for the Australian, who coasted to a fourth career victory on the PGA TOUR. He closed the week at 26-under 262, five clear of the field.
Emiliano Grillo (66) caught fire early on but ran out of steam on the final stretch. He needed just 30 strokes on the front nine that contained six birdies. The Argentine ended the week in T2 with Chesson Hadley (66) and Bronson Burgoon (68).
Overnight co-leader Gary Woodland had another disappointing Sunday while in contention. He moved to 22-under through eleven holes, but conceded three bogeys over the next four holes to slip down the order.
Justin Thomas ended the week with a 64 in T5, 20-under 268, capping yet another successful sojourn to Malaysia with a top five finish. At 20-under with him were Abraham Ancer (65), Charles Howell III (67), Louis Oosthuizen (69) and Woodland with a 71.
Gaganjeet Bhullar struggled at times to discover the touch that has made him so lethal in recent times. And despite bogeys to start and end the day, he peppered his card with seven birdies and an eagle at the par-5 fifth hole to post a 65. He ended the week in T27.
Brave man Rahil Gangjee finished a difficult week on fighting terms too. He made four birdies in five holes at the turn to post an even 72 in the final round.
Anirban Lahiri endured plenty of drama reaching Malaysia on a late withdrawal from Andrew Landry. He made three birdies on Sunday to finish with a 70 for an overall score of 4-under 284.
Shubhankar needed a fluid final round to try and separate himself from Leishman and Woodland. But a patchy start and an untimely drink cost him dear. But the 22-year-old Indian must walk away with plenty of confidence from another successful week on the PGA TOUR.
He has knocked on the victory door for the second time in 12 starts and on the back of a breakout season, this is a great start to another season establishing himself among the elite golfers of the world.
A tee shot that flew right on to an adjoining fairway could not prevent Shubhankar from a well-earned par. It came on the back of a bogey at the second, a third in four days, at the hole and helped to calm his nerve and set about on the quest for glory.
No matter which way you might read his journey this Sunday, the one thing Shubhankar wasn’t guilty of was lack of effort. He kept plodding along like a warrior, pushing harder with every hole to try and find the extra little juice needed to threaten the runaway leader.
Beginning at the sixth hole, Shubhankar made four birdies and just as many bogeys as he worked his best to try and push up the order. Every shot, it was apparent that Shubhankar was willing himself to summon something ever so little to regain a sniff of that elusive victory.
Try as hard as he may have, Shubhankar was up against a formidable Sunday round from Leishman, who was monk-like in his trek around the course. The bogey at the 13th was a rare evidence of his human qualities on a day when he could barely put a foot wrong.