Maybank Championship: The remarkable rise of Sharma

From joining the play-for-pay ranks at a tender age of 16 to becoming the leading Indian golfer in the world, Shubhankar Sharma’s rise up the ranks of professional golf has been nothing short of spectacular.

It has been an amazing journey for Sharma, who joins a successful line of golfers from India after claiming his second victory in two months on the Asian Tour and the European Tour at the co-sanctioned Maybank Championship on Sunday.

Sharma closed with a brilliant 10-under-par 62 to seal the deal at the Saujana Golf and Country Club, taking home his career’s biggest prize purse yet of US$500,000 to move atop the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings and lead the Race to Dubai on the European Tour.

“The last two months have changed my life. I’ve always dreamt of winning and now I’m a two-time winner on the Asian Tour and European Tour,” said Sharma, who rose to a career-high 72nd place on the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

The young Indian broke through in sensational style at the Joburg Open last December and earned for himself a coveted spot at The Open at Carnoustie this July where he will be making his Major debut.

Sharma took home his career’s biggest prize purse yet of US$500,000

“This win is great because it opens so many doors for me. I’m also playing in The Open so I’m excited about that. More and more players are coming out of Asia and India. You’ve had players like Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Anirban Lahiri. Just seeing them do well inspire us.

“Especially me winning now will inspire some kids so we need more idols to inspire more people and give them the confidence that they can do it as well. Asian golf is in the right hands. I am sure you will see more and more Asian players winning in Europe,” Sharma added.

Prior to turning professional, Sharma was the number one junior golfer in his country. He plied his trade on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after missing the mark in his first attempt at the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2014. He claimed his first top-five result on the Asian Tour on home soil that year.

Sharma enjoyed several starts on the region’s premier Tour through his country exemption category in 2015 before earning his Asian Tour card in what was his second attempt at the Qualifying School in 2016.

Sharma kept his card for the 2017 season after finishing 51st on the money list, thanks largely to an impressive top-five finish in the Philippines where he closed with a 62. His career has been on the upswing since, notching four top-10s in 2017 before winning in South Africa.

American Paul Peterson, who claimed his first Asian Tour title in Myanmar a fortnight ago and came in tied-11th in Malaysia, sits in second place on the Merit rankings with earnings of US$135,000.

The Tour heads down under for the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth this week. The event, tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the European Tour and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, will take place at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club from February 8 to 11.

Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings – Top-20

Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)

1. Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 500,000

2. Paul PETERSON (USA) 182,900

3. Berry HENSON (USA) 118,112

4. Shaun NORRIS (RSA) 112,200

5. Khalin JOSHI (IND) 92,880

5. Hideto TANIHARA (JPN) 92,880

7. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 67,412

8. Danthai BOONMA (THA) 67,400

9. Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 48,391

10. Shiv KAPUR (IND) 44,650

11. Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 43,000

12. Arjun ATWAL (IND) 40,041

13. Gavin GREEN (MAS) 37,712

14. Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 36,850

14. David LIPSKY (USA) 36,850

16. Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 31,650

17. Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 30,685

18. Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 30,550

19. Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 29,841

20. Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 28,024

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