Shubhankar set for star-studded CJ Cup

Shubhankar set for star-studded CJ Cup

India's Shubhankar Sharma will continue his quest for a PGA Card. AFP File Photo

Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma will continue his quest for a PGA Tour card and a place in the International Team for the Presidents Cup when he tees up at this week's USD 9.5 million CJ Cup here.

The PGA card apart, Shubhankar also has in his sights, a spot on the International team and the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Last week, in his opening start on a PGA Tour event, he was T-10 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, after co-leading through 54 holes. It was his second Top-10 this calendar year but in different PGA seasons.

Shubhankar's disappointment was short-lived as he got a special invite for a nine-hole practice round from South African legend Ernie Els, who is captain of the International team for the Presidents Cup to be held in 2019.

The Indian has time and again stated that it was the memory of Els spotting him at a golf clinic for juniors in New Delhi in 2008 at the Emaar-MGF Masters, an Asian and European Tour event, that set him on road to serious golf.

"We were just chatting a lot about his life on tour," said Sharma of his day with Els.

"He said he's so happy that kids like me are coming up now and that the International Team is actually looking really strong. I think he's a great captain and definitely we'll have a great team together."

Els, who has featured in eight Presidents Cup, believes Shubhankar will contend for a place in his International team.

"I played with Shubhankar, who's had an incredible year. He's won a few times around the world in one year and he's only 22 years old," said the 49-year-old.

Of the childhood encounter, Els said he finds it quite amazing that the brief meeting shaped Shubhankar's view on golf.

"This kind of stories doesn't normally happen. I had the same situation with Gary Player where I asked him for his autograph when I was a kid and he doesn't even remember.

"But it made such an impact in my life and it's amazing how it translates in your mind and changes your life. It’s amazing how you can touch lives without even knowing," said Els.

Shubhankar's close friend and compatriot Anirban Lahiri has played the last two Presidents Cup. Like him, or preferably with him, Shubhankar wants to make the team to Royal Melbourne.

"The next Presidents Cup is going to be huge with Ernie and Tiger (Woods) being the captains. The International Team could have pulled off a great win in Korea (in 2015).

"Anirban has done it, and if both of us can make the team, that will be the icing on the cake."


Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox