Golf: 'Nothing missing from my game, my best will be good enough,' says Shubhankar 

The 26-year-old Sharma, who had claimed the Joburg Open and Maybank Championships in 2017 and 2018 respectively, will be one of the strong Indian contenders for the title this week.
Shubhankar Sharma (Photo | Twitter)
Shubhankar Sharma (Photo | Twitter)

GURUGRAM: Confident that "nothing is missing" from his game, especially after getting better at short game, which was his weak link not long ago, two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma is all fired up to live up to his own "high expectations" at the Indian Open golf tournament, beginning here Thursday.

The 26-year-old Sharma, who had claimed the Joburg Open and Maybank Championships in 2017 and 2018 respectively, will be one of the strong Indian contenders for the title this week.

"I have high expectations but at the same time, I want to focus on a solid routine and process. It is going to be a long week, anything is possible. You can't win it on the first day or second, you have to wait till Sunday to get into contention. So that would be my main goal," Sharma said.

"I also want to have fun. I haven't played a lot in India. I am feeding off the friendly energy that is around me here. It would be great to win the tournament. I am playing really well and I just have to apply myself on the course. 

"My short game is much better now. It is one part of the game I have gotten better at. My ball striking has only got better. The short game was the weakest link, which has become better. Overall, I have matured as a player with four more years of experience in the tour." Sharma had a T-7 finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship -- the first stroke play event of the year on the DP World Tour but missed the cut in the next two events.

"I am playing my best now. There is nothing missing in my game. Obviously, I have to keep working on my strengths and weaknesses. It is all about bringing it to four days together. If I can concentrate on the process day in and day out by law on average, it (win) will happen.

"Once it happens, like it happened a few years back when I won in quick succession, I am hoping for something like that. Hopefully, I can bring my best this week because I know my best will be good enough." 

Talking about the DLF golf course, Sharma said: "It is a tougher course, especially 16 to 18 holes are tough. You need to have your ball-striking to be up there and need to find the right spot and that is what is exciting here.

"It (the course) is a lot better now. It was a new course in 2019 but the greens are more receptive, the roughs are up, the trees have grown, there is a lush look to the fairways, it is more intimidating as fairways have grown. It is the best that I have seen." 

Asked what could be a winning score, Sharma said: "It is hard to say, it all depends on the wind. If it picks up it will be single digit, if it is benign then it will go to double digits. 

"I would say between 10 to 12 under will have a good chance unless someone goes lights out and shoots 18 or 19 under." 

Sharma has been playing in Europe for the last few years.

He had four top-10 finishes on the European circuit in 2021, including a tied third finish in Open de Espana and had a runner-up finish in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2022.

"It has been a great journey, I have learnt a lot. When you travel in Europe, everything is different. Weather is different, the green is rolling. It has been a great period of learning, I have learnt a lot about myself and the game. I have been pushed against the walls but I have found my way. 

"It was also the COVID years, for 7-8 months I haven't been able to travel. I am more mature and I have more shots in my arsenal. With all that experience I feel I'm a lot better than before.

"Sometimes it gets lonely on the tour, sometimes you miss home but I have got used to it now. It is my sixth year, maybe in the first few years it did get that way and in 2020 and 2021 it was like that. Now I'm trying to schedule my tournaments in a way so that I can take healthy breaks and don't exhaust myself mentally." 

Sharma had finished 44th at DP World Tour championship to lock is place in the 2023 British Open.

"I am going to the British Open after some time now. I have played at a Major before, so I know what to expect. It has always been special as a kid also. Making it to the Open was one of the goals and that has happened, so really looking forward to it. " 

When the conversation veered towards the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, which has divided the golfing world, Sharma said it is unfortunate that there has been so much controversy.

He believes it is beneficial for the players.

"I personally don't have much opinion on it. I am more neutral but I feel the good thing is there is more focus on golf and all tours, including the Indian tour, have benefitted from it. Overall, I feel it is good." 

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