Sports

Shubhankar Sharma celebrates a dream of a birthday

V Krishnaswamy Portrush | Updated on July 21, 2019 Published on July 21, 2019

Shubhankar Sharma

Shoots his career-best card in a Major

Shubhankar Sharma admits he is not used to doing much on his birthdays, except for maybe thinking about golf, which he says has been a passion for as long as he can remember. However, for the last two birthdays, he has not just been thinking, but actually playing in his ‘dream’ Major.

In 2018, he played the third round after making the cut on his Open debut, and on Sunday, he marked his 23rd birthday by shooting his career-best card in a Major with a three-under 68, that was highlighted by a superb 45-foot birdie on the closing 18th.

He shot rounds of 70, 72, 77 and 68 for three-over 287 and was Tied-52 which, as other players finish, could bring him up to be better than his best of T-51 last year.

Asked if the round was special because of his birthday, Sharma, smiled and said, “No, I’m not used to doing much on my birthday, but the last two birthdays have been very special. Last year, I was in The Open as well. I was in a restaurant and the whole restaurant got up and sang “Happy Birthday” for me. Now to see the grandstand singing it, it’s very, very special. And then to make that putt, to just hear that, it’s always special playing The Open. And this is just — I couldn’t ask for a better thing.”

Also, he knows if he keeps playing well, he could keep coming back for the Open, which is always scheduled for the third week of July and that is around his birthday on July 21. “The Open will always be special, because it comes around the time of my birthday,” he said.

The whole tournament was an important lesson for young Sharma, whose 68 was also the second best round by an Indian in any Major. Sharma believes that this experience, as also last year’s experience of Scottish and The Open, has been invaluable. He says he has been fortunate to have been exposed to golf very early, but admits that it was not Links golf, which is very difficult and requires dealing with wind, rain and such conditions.

Taking to Links golf

“We have had a lot of exposure, but playing Links golf last year and this year, I have learnt a lot. In India, we don’t get to play this kind of Links golf. It is very different to normal golf. It’s windy at different golf courses, but here it gets very, very cold and it pushes the ball down. It took me a few years to understand how the ball behaves in the air when you are playing in Links golf.

“The first few times I just did not get the hang of it. Now having played a few times, I can finally say I enjoy Links golf. It is a challenge and I have begun liking it. After all, this is where it (golf) all started... So Links golf is indeed a great test. I have begun to like it.”

As for playing Majors and the pressure it brings – he has played five Majors and made two cuts, both at The Open — Sharma said, “Major Championship golf is very different from normal golf. The way the course is set up. I think it’s also about belief.

“I have played The Open twice now. I definitely feel like I have the game. I played fairly decent the first two days. And at the end of the day, it’s just a golf tournament. If you don’t really think about it as a Major or something really big and you just go and play, you will be fine. In the future, I’ll definitely do better and I’m sure I'll play many more of these tournaments.”

Speaking on his final round, Sharma said, “To be honest, I feel like I had a great tournament. Just the back nine on Saturday. So just the back holes. Apart from that, I played pretty well.” The stretch of six holes, between 11th and 15th in seven-over cost Sharma seven shots — three doubles, two bogeys against one birdie.

That birdie and the birthday wishes made up for that and he wants to be back. Again and again.

Published on July 21, 2019
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