Sharmila targets tour title

Blore golfer thrilled to be part of European Tour

Having realised her dream of playing in the Ladies European Tour in nerve-jangling fashion, Sharmila Nicollet said her next goal would be to capture a title on the competitive tour that would inspire the next generation of Indian girls to take up professional golf.

“When I picked up this game as an amateur, the only thing on my mind was to turn pro and eventually graduate to the European and American tours,” Sharmila, who at 20 became the youngest Indian to attain an European Tour Card, told Deccan Herald. “I am really thrilled and happy to have achieved part of my dream, and now the focus would be to win a title.

“I know it’s going to be extremely difficult. The level of competition out there is phenomenal. You’ve got to be at your best always. One bad round -- even an average one -- could really pull you down as many of them can shoot under-par consistently. The most important priority would be to retain my card, but at the same time I would also go for a win.

“When I started off as an amateur, there were quite a few talented girls. But most of them didn’t think of pursuing it as a career because there wasn’t much money (to be made). While things have changed now, we are still way behind Europe and the America where every event attracts more than 100 golfers. I just hope, in time to come, we will see many girls plying their trade abroad, like our male pros do,” added Sharmila, who has been laid low by a throat infection since her return from Spain and is itching to hit the course.

Sharmila, who would open her campaign in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open (Feb 17-18) at Christchurch, said she has worked hard on her short game, her major weakness that has let her down many times. “One thing I learnt from the Q School is you need to play consistent golf to even stay inside the top 10. Most of the game revolves around the greens where your putting is extremely crucial. I’ve worked hard in the last six months, and intend to spend more time on developing my short game.”

Talking about the five-way play-off for the two remaining spots, the glamorous Bangalorean said the under-pressure seven-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole has boosted her confidence.

“I started off (the Final Q School) really well with a five-under 68 (at South Course) and one-under 70 (at North Course). The conditions then got the better of me as I hit 80, 75 and 75, but somehow sneaked into the play-off. It was a do-or-die situation and I am thrilled to have struck a birdie when the pressure was on. That confidence has definitely spurred me on.”

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