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Indian Open: Experienced Shubhankar Sharma Hopeful To Break Title Drought

Shubhankar is currently in 48th position in the top 60 list based on Games rankings and is likely to make the cut for the Paris Olympics 2024

Photo: X/ @shubhankargolf
Shubhankar Sharma recorded the best-ever finish by an Indian -- a tied 8th -- in the 2023 Open Golf Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Merseyside, England. Photo: X/ @shubhankargolf
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An experienced Shubhankar Sharma is hopeful that being in a relaxed mind space with an overall improvement in his game will help him break his title jinx at the Hero Indian Open and keep him firmly on course for a ticket to the Paris Olympics. (More Sports News)

The 26-year-old Indian, a two-time DP World Tour winner, will be one of the favourites when the prestigious tournament begins at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Thursday.

"I've been feeling very good about my game. Since 2018, I have come close many times, including last week when I was tied for the lead at one point on the final day. I'm glad that I'm in form coming into my home event," Shubhankar told reporters.

The Chandigarh-born golfer, whose last win came at the 2018 Maybank Championship, had come close to clinching the title at the Porsche Singapore Classic when he shared the lead on the back nine of the final day before finishing tied-seventh on Sunday.

"This is our fifth major. And this is my second home DLF. This is where I played so much golf from 2012 to 2016, which was my first few years as a professional.

"I'm feeling very, very confident this time. Feeling better than I've ever felt coming into the Indian Open. I have more experience on my side, thankfully, since 2018. And I'm looking forward to it this week."

Shubhankar is currently in 48th position in the top 60 list based on Games rankings and is likely to make the cut for Paris.

"The Olympics is always very exciting and nowadays in golf, every year is exciting because every other year you are trying to qualify for the President's Cup, there are majors. Olympics, obviously, golf being an addition now in the past two Olympics, it's become a big target of everyone to qualify for the Olympics," he said.

The Arjuna awardee golfer said it will be a pure test of skills at the Olympics.

"I am very excited also because I know the golf course, Big Golf National I have played there many times, it's one of my favourite golf courses on tour. I think it's a true test," he said.

"It's not a golf course which is a putting competition. You have to put on your big boy pants and hit shorts. Especially in August, it will be really cold also. It can be cold. So it will be a proper test and hopefully, I will be there.

"I've been playing well and my goal right now is to just play well in every event that I play. And that should take care of everything else."

"I've Grown By Leaps And Bounds"

Shubhankar, who turned professional in 2013, believes he has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade and is in his best possible shape coming into the tournament.

"I've pretty much spent my college years on tour. This is my 12th season as a pro, so it's been a long time, it's been a great time. I've made so many friends and travelled all around the world. I've just learned more about myself...

"And every year I've become a better player and a better person. I have a better understanding of the game and something that I'm proud of, the journey that I've taken till now."

Last year, Shubhankar achieved a remarkable feat, recording the best-ever finish by an Indian -- a tied 8th -- in the 2023 Open Golf Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Merseyside, England.

"I think everything feels really good now. I have become a lot better in pretty much every aspect from short games to putting to my ball striking and a testament of that was at the Open where I thought it was one of my best ball-striking weeks.

"And I think, mentally I've just become more relaxed. I think after a while, it (remaining calm) I guess that's the difference between the top players. After a certain level, it is about how they manage their time off the course, their gym time, their meditation time or you know just time with the family.

"Everything is planned properly and that is what gives them the excellence of consistency that they need. So in that aspect, I think I've grown leaps and bounds since last year and every year before that. So that has been my biggest strength."

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