THE BEN­GAL TIGER

Golf Australia - - AROUND THE TRAPS - – Michael Jones

IT’S ONE o’clock in the af­ter­noon, and Shub­hankar Sharma has just signed his card af­ter com­plet­ing his round at Lu­mine Golf Club in Spain. The 21-year-old In­dian is about to fin­ish 68th at the Euro­pean Tour Qual­i­fy­ing School and miss a golden op­por­tu­nity of gain­ing his play­ing card. This is a mo­ment that would usu­ally be­come a huge de­ter­rent for most young play­ers. But Sharma isn’t like most young play­ers. For starters, he has a fa­ther who has al­ways be­lieved that it’s a mat­ter of when not if his son suc­ceeds. Sound fa­mil­iar? It’s about to … “He started at seven and hasn’t put the club down af­ter that,” said Mo­han Lan Sharma, the for­mer In­dian Army Colonel, who quit the forces to help his son pur­sue golf af­ter his col­league Tushar Lahiri, the fa­ther of Anir­ban, spot­ted the young boy’s tal­ent. “He got hooked and mar­ried to the game, his tem­per­a­ment is in sync, he’s calm, com­posed, hum­ble and down to earth, and thinks golf is big­ger than him, there­fore he is al­ways im­prov­ing. “What mat­ters is how well he plays and stands up to the com­pe­ti­tion week-af­ter-week. In the long run that is what mat­ters, and he will, he will stand up.”

And that’s ex­actly what Sharma did. Just two weeks af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment of Qual­i­fy­ing School, he an­nounced him­self to the world by win­ning the Joburg Open, earn­ing his Tour card and re­plac­ing Lahiri as the youngest In­dian to win a Euro­pean ti­tle. Sharma se­nior wasted no time and told re­porters ex­actly what he thought the fu­ture held for his son: “He will be World No.1 one day. Call it a hunch, an in­stinct, a feel­ing; I see, un­der­stand and study a lot of golf, so that’s why I know.” Fast-for­ward an­other four weeks and Sharma had won his sec­ond event – the May­bank Cham­pi­onship – in just his 13th start, rock­et­ing to World No.72 and be­com­ing his na­tion’s high­est ranked player. The young prodigy will be wel­comed home this month for the In­dian Open, where he will have the chance to af­firm his po­si­tion as In­dia’s new No.1. He leads the Race to Dubai at the time of writ­ing and will play his first ma­jor in July when he com­petes at Carnoustie for The Open Cham­pi­onship.

“I don’t see why me, or any other In­dian, can’t win a Ma­jor,” Sharma said. “With so many com­ing through and con­tend­ing, I think once we have con­fi­dence and more star play­ers, I don’t see why we can’t see an In­dian Ma­jor cham­pion in seven to 10 years.”

Sharma is clearly the most promis­ing tal­ent to emerge from In­dia for quite some time – and any re­sem­blance to the up­bring­ing of Tiger Woods and the re­la­tion­ship he had with his fa­ther can only add to the ex­cite­ment of what’s to come.

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