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Golf | Wiser and more experienced, Shubhankar returns to complete unfinished business

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Golf | Wiser and more experienced, Shubhankar returns to complete unfinished business

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Shubhankar Sharma to the media prior to the Hero Indian Open at DLF Golf and County Club on March 27, 2024 in New Delhi, India.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

Shubhankar Sharma is back home. The highest ranked Indian in the field and the only one on the DP World Tour (European Tour) at the moment has not won a title since 2018 and the Hero Indian Open, starting Thursday, hasn’t had a home winner since 2017. Over the next four days, Sharma would be hoping to change both.

His previous best here was a tied seventh finish in 2018 after leading on the final day and by his own admission, both him and the course have changed. “That was a long time ago. I was in good form, very similar to what I am now. But now I have a lot more experience.

“My approach will be very different from what it used to be. The course has changed too. It is one of the tougher courses we play on. The rough has grown a lot, the trees have grown, it’s much thicker and lush around the fairways.

“There’s a way to score here, but it’s all about consistency. You can’t overpower this course,” he declared in an interaction here on Wednesday.

Only 27 and already into his 12th season as a professional, there is no world-weariness in Shubhankar. “I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve been out here for so long and not having fun. I’ve had the time of my life, I’ve made so many friends, travelled all around the world. And over the years I’ve learned more about myself and gained experience,” he added. 

That learning is reflected in his approach to setbacks. “Golf is a lot like life, the ability to bounce back is very important. I think I’m good at accepting how things are and pushing myself in the right way and not getting consumed by my own anger or frustrations or expectations.

“Also, spending time off the course in the right way, with the family is so important,” explained the Chandigarh golfer who is also the brand ambassador for city based Roundglass Sports.

It’s not just the mind that has matured — over time, his game too has evolved. “Earlier, I used to spend a lot of time on the range. Now, that time is divided between golf, gym, physio, recovery etc, it’s become more regimented.

“It’s been a journey of maturity. I guess that’s the difference between top players — the way they manage their time after a certain level, that’s what gives them excellent consistency. In that aspect, I think I’ve really grown,” he added.

The Olympics, not surprisingly, is on the radar, but Shubhankar is not thinking too much about it at the moment. “I am very happy to be in the reckoning. My goal right now is to just play well in every event I enter, that should take care of everything else. Playing well at the British Open last year gave me the belief that I can compete against the best at the highest stage.”

Once the Paris qualification gets finalised, however, Shubhankar would rather focus on winning a medal than socialising at the Games. “Honestly, I would rather not meet too many people and concentrate on my game. Also, I don’t think we will be staying at the village since the course is quite far.

“And most of my idols have retired — Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps etc — so there is that. Getting the medal is more important than meeting people,” he declared.

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