Shubhankar Sharma’s Olympic dreams back on course at European Tour

The 24-year-old Sharma, who has two European Tour titles to his name, will be back to professional golf for the first time since March in Birmingham.

By Rahul Venkat

Shubhankar Sharma will be the second Indian golfer after Arjun Atwal to play in a professional event when he tees off at the European Tour’s Hero Open in Birmingham, England next week.

The Hero Open is set to start on July 30 and will be held at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club.

It is the second of six events of the ‘UK Swing’, which began with the Betfred British Masters, and the Indian golfer is eager to play his first tournament in four months.

Shubhankar Sharma is aiming to be amongst the field of 60 selected for the Olympics when the cut off for Tokyo is made next year.

“I am quite excited and pumped up by the prospect and plan to play all five remaining events in the six-event UK Swing,” Sharma told the Press Trust of India news agency.

“It’s been a long time since I competed in the Middle East Swing at the start of the year. My last event was the Qatar Masters in the first week of March.”

The Indian golfer has two victories on the European Tour, the Maybank Championship in Malaysia and South Africa’s Joburg Open, both of which he won in 2018.

He did not enjoy a great start to the 2020 season and had started training at the Chandigarh Golf Course with coach Jesse Grewal once the lockdown restrictions in India were relaxed.

In the UK though, he will be teaming up with former golfer and now coach Gurbaaz Mann.

“Baaz and I have great camaraderie. He was with me in WGC-Mexico, where I led (in 2018) and finally finished in top-10. He knows my game and we often play together. So, it will be great to have him around,” said Shubhankar Sharma.

Shubankhar Sharma will be looking to make his Olympics debut next year

The Indian golfer, who turned 24 on Tuesday, is currently ranked 311 in the world. He had hoped to do well at the Hero Indian Open, to gain some useful points and move closer to the cut for Tokyo 2020.

However, with the event being called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharma will have to quickly find his rhythm and score points in the next 10 months to make it to the Olympics.

Olympic qualification

The top-15 ranked players in the world at the end of the qualifying period on 21 June 2021 will be eligible for the Olympics.

However, there is a maximum of four players from any country allowed.

After the top 15, the players will be eligible based on world rankings, with a maximum of two golfers from each country included.