‘Shubhankar Sharma must stay grounded, have the right people around to succeed’
Shubhankar Sharma’s next challenge after winning The Maybank Championship is adapting to conditions on the European circuit, but golfers like him are fast learners, writes Jeev Milkha Singh in his column.other sports Updated: Feb 06, 2018 11:06 IST
My first encounter with Shubhankar (Sharma) was around seven years ago during practice at the DLF Golf & Country Club. He came up and introduced himself and the boy’s confidence struck me immediately. Though unassuming, his mental strength made him stand out and that has shown in his game.
Since those were early days, his father (Col Mohan Sharma) too spoke to me on what needed to be done. My advice was to ensure Shubhankar had proper practice facilities so that he could work on different aspects of the game, the emphasis being on quality not quantity practice.
The other bit was working on the mental aspect, not only to get better at golf but become a better human being. Having said so, credit is due to the parents for bringing him up the way they have and instilling the right ethics. After all, it all starts at home.
I watched him on Sunday (the final round of the Maybank Championship), and it was an exhilarating experience. A kid of 21 taking on some of the best in the world and holding his own is the stuff dreams are made of. Again, it was his inner trust, the urge to get the job done come what may, saw him through.
It’s tough to believe that at such a tender age he will feature in the Open Championship and World Golf Championship (in Mexico). At world No 72, there is every chance he could break into the top 50 and also win the Asian Tour’s order of merit. When that happens he will get into the other Majors and WGCs, but it will also get tougher as he will be competing with the cream. To ensure he stays there, Shubhankar will have to keep doing what he has all these years.
Winning the Maybank Championship after the Johannesburg Open affirms that he has a future on the European Tour and playing in mainland Europe will be a learning experience, especially countering the weather and wind. I too had to adjust when I ventured out, like getting used to hitting the wind shots, but kids these days are quick learners given the awareness levels and knowledge at their disposal.
Playing opportunities will grow as Shubhankar moves on but he needs to be careful and choose what’s best for him. Of particular importance is managing his schedule. He should be playing for three-four weeks at the most and then take a break. If injured, do not venture out, stay back and fix it.
The sky is the limit for Shubhankar and he will keep pushing the boundaries, but more than that he is an inspiration for youngsters. If I can turn the clock back and say if Jeev Milkha Singh could achieve a world ranking of 28 (in 2009), so can a young aspirant.
Belief has seen Shubhankar this far and many more milestones lie ahead but he needs to stay grounded and surround himself with the right people. Doing so will help him rebound quicker as setbacks are a part of life.