Shubhankar enjoying the adulation

Shubhankar enjoying the adulation

Set to play with 1987 winner Larry Mize and local Georgia man Russell Henley in the first round, India's latest golfing sensation Shubhankar Sharma, a special invitee to the Masters, is already attracting a lot of attention and he is loving it.

"If all this helps to push golf in India, I am happy. I know there are a lot of good players back home and if I can inspire others to take up and some day get here and on PGA Tour, it will be fantastic," said Shubhankar.

He admitted he liked being the new young face of Indian golf.

It was on the Tuesday of the week of the Hero Indian Open last month, which is his National Open, that he got a call from Hootie Johnson from the Augusta National.

Shubhankar was still on the flight returning from WGC-Mexico. On returning home, he saw a mail in his in-box from Augusta asking him to call back.

"I thought it could be an invite, but I didn't want to raise my expectations. I made the call and they said they wanted to invite me," he recalled.

"I was very excited. There were some friends and we enjoyed that moment. Next day on the Masters site, it said I had accepted the invitation. I said, who wouldn't. It is everybody's dream to play here."

A lot has happened since then and Shubhankar is in Augusta now with his family and friends.

Going back a little over 10 years, Jeev Milkha Singh from Chandigarh became the first Indian golfer to tee off at the Augusta Masters.

Now it is 2018 and another Chandigarh golfer, all of 21, caught the eye of the Tournament Committee at the Augusta National to get 'invited' to the Masters.

Since Jeev, Arjun Atwal and Anirban Lahiri, too have played at Augusta.

In the last few weeks, Shubhankar has played with Phil Mickelson in the lead group at WGC-Mexico on Sunday, with Sergio Garcia at the WGC-Match play and so he can rightfully dream of playing with Tiger at the Masters.

"I know everyone will be following Tiger. I did too when I used to watch him on TV," said Shubhankar.

Now the difference is he is in the field with Woods.

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