Kolkata, March 3 (IANS) Hailing in-form golfer Shubhankar Sharma’s exploits at the ongoing WGC-Mexico Championship, Indian Open-bound S.S.P. Chawrasia said the youngster’s sterling performances augurs well for the country’s players.
All of 21, Shubhankar is leading an exclusive 65-man field boasting the game’s top five ranked players at the halfway point in Mexico City’s Golf Club de Chapultepec.
Despite missing two cuts before the event, Shubhankar, who is the only player to have won twice on the European Tour circuit this season, took a two-shot lead over Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera-Bello on Friday.
“Shubhankar’s performance is good for the country. He is leading there (WGC Mexico) and the world is watching him — which is phenomenal. He is taking the flag of Indian golfers higher and people are (learning) how good we can be,” Chawrasia told reporters at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) on Saturday.
Shubhankar prevailed at the Jo-Burg Open in December and at the Malaysian Open last month.
“Previously, Jeev (Milkha Singh), Anirban (Lahiri), Arjun (Atwal) have gone from India so the number of players are increasing both in PGA and European Tour. In the next five years, we will do very well,” said the 39-year-old, a two-time European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned Hero Indian Open winner.
“If we have public golf courses, at least 10 players will make it to the international level.”
Chawrasia, bidding to become the first ever golfer to notch up a hat-trick of wins in the 54-year history of the tournament, said Shubhankar is someone he is wary of and could challenge him along with Lahiri.
“In India, Shubhankar Sharma is someone who you always need to be wary of at the moment. He is playing well and let’s say I am pitted against him in the final, I know that he will not commit any mistake. If I falter, I cannot catch up. So I have to be on my guard. Now it depends how I take this preparation,” Chawrasia said.
Shubhankar is the highest-ranked Indian player in the tournament with two European Tour wins in less than two months. He has broken into Top-100, with a world ranking of No. 75.
On his preparations, Chawrasia said he is working on improving his game on the weekends.
In the last two tournaments, Oman Open and Qatar Open, the city-based golfer struggled badly. In the Oman Open he made the cut but could not do much, while in the second tournament played last week he made an early exit.
“There is something still bothering me. I am working on it. It’s purely the mental part,” he said.
“It also helps when you talk to veterans like Jeev (Milkha Singh). He is my competitor, but off the field he helps me. I admire him a lot and his tips are a great help.
“I am practicing hard and the confidence is much better as I have won it twice. I have worked on my putting and driving. I am expecting to do well.
“I often sit back and reflect after day’s play. But I think I have a quality, I forget things very fast. So the negativity does not affect me — neither does success makes me complacent.
“My mind is now in better shape, and in sync with my execution of shots. Golf is all in the mind and you have to get your mindset right,” Chawrasia said.
The caddie-turned-golfer also spoke about managing the workload, saying he plans to play fewer tournaments this year.
“I skipped a tournament in New Zealand which is both in the Asian and Australian Tour. I wanted to prepare for the Indian Open in the best way possible. I plan to play less this year. The travelling part takes a lot out of you. I recently missed a tee off.”