Golf: Shubhankar Sharma leads strong host contingent at Indian Open

Sharma, the world no. 72 has won two European tour titles in two months and will lead the Indian charge.

New golfing sensation Shubhankar Sharma, along with two-time defending champion SSP Chawrasia and former winner Anirban Lahiri, will lead a strong Indian challenge at the 54th edition of the Indian Open to be held at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram from March 8 to 11.

The European and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event will also feature other star Indians such as Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur, who had a phenomenal 2017 with three Asian Tour titles.

The tournament, to be played at the Gary Player layout of the challenging DLF Golf and Country Club, will also feature top names like Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who is a PGA Tour winner and member of the 2017 Presidents Cup team.

Other marquee names also include Andrew Johnston and Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, who has 21 worldwide wins, including 15 on European Tour. Just last month, Bjorn led a strong European team to a fine win over Asia in the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

Past champion Thongchai Jaidee and Ryder Cup player Chris Wood, who won the 2016 BMW PGA Championships, are also on the field. But the spotlight will be on Shubhankar, the highest-ranked Indian in the $1.75 million tournament.

With two European Tour wins in less than two months, Shubhankar has broken into top-100 in the world at no. 72. But it won’t easy for the youngster as World no. 76 Lahiri, a regular on the PGA Tour, will try to reclaim the trophy which he last won in 2015.

Defending champion Chawrasia too would be eager to claim a hat-trick of titles following his wins here in 2016 and 2017. Other Indians to feature in the tournament are Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sanshu, Mukesh Kumar, Chirag Kumar and Rashid Khan to name a few.

Shiv Kapur summed the importance of the tournament nicely when he said: “The National Championship (the Indian Open) is the most important tournament in your calendar. For a Indian golfer, it is like the fifth Major. Every golfer dreams of winning his or her national championship.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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