Shubhankar Sharma is just 21-years-old but looked and carried himself as if he has been playing international golf for a decade as he fired a wonderful 61 on Randpark Golf Club’s Bushwillow course to soar into second place, just one stroke off the lead, after the second round of the Joburg Open on Friday.
Then again, the Indian prospect was barely 17 when he turned pro, so it is little wonder he exudes such confidence, even though he is playing in South Africa for the first time.
Shubhankar is one of the new generation of golfers who seemingly knows no fear, always aiming for birdies, but even though he barely mishit a ball all day, it was arguably just as impressive that his 10 birdies were not sullied by a single bogey.
“It was very important that I had no bogeys and one of the key moments in my round was on nine when I made a good par. I went over the green because the wind did not catch my ball, but I was able to make a very good up-and-down that kept my momentum.
“Otherwise I don’t think I would have completed my round without dropping a shot. A few key pars were very important, they kept my round going and I’m really happy to be in the situation I’m in. But it is only halfway through and I want to keep my head down and keep playing,” Shubhankar said after his best round as a professional.
The Chandigarh-based golfer is considered a top-class talent on the Asian Tour, and is 22nd on their order of merit after three top-10 finishes.
But a win in the Joburg Open, a tri-sanctioned event with the European and Sunshine tours, would not only get him a European Tour card but also a place in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie, which would be a major debut for the likeable youngster.
“Every golfer dreams of playing in the Open, but I don’t want to think too much about that, just to win would be the biggest thing and everything else would be a bonus. Playing in Europe is also always on my mind because of the Rolex Series events and all the world ranking points on offer, and I tried to get on through European Qualifying School. So it would be great to play on that tour and a win here would change my life, but we’re not there yet,” a composed Shubhankar said.