Golfer Shubhankar Sharma goes back to the drawing board to find form

The 23-year-old believes the forced break is a ‘blessing in disguise’ as it allowed him time to reassess his game.

By Jay Lokegaonkar

For Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma, the postponement of sporting events came at the right time.

This is because, admittedly, the 23-year-old didn’t have the best of starts to the year on the golf course.

He finished tied-59th in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January and did not make the cut in the four subsequent events that he participated in.

Shubhankar Sharma then headed to Qatar to tee off in the Qatar Masters and had plans of flying to Kenya to participate in the Kenya Open right after.

However, while in Qatar, he was informed that the tournament in Kenya had been postponed to a later date due to the pandemic, after which he returned home to Chandigarh.

He has been there ever since -- back to the drawing board.

“The COVID-19 crisis was actually a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to reassess my game and mental state too,” he said, adding that it has been the longest time he has been away from the sport.

“I took advantage of this period to reflect on all aspects of my game,” he told the Press Trust of India.

Like all athletes restricted during the nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, Shubhankar Sharma improvised.

“I practised my chipping where I made a small hole in the ground and tried to hit as many chips close to that as possible,” the 2018 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion explained.

“That was interesting to me as I have not done that for a very long time. The only time I did it was when I was a kid, so it was fun reliving those days again,” added Shubhankar Sharma whose last tournament victory came at the 2018 Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tuning back to competition mode

With the Indian government relaxing some of the lockdown measures and re-opening golf courses, Shubhankar Sharma rushed back to the Chandigarh Golf Course along with fellow golfers Aadil Bedi, Karandeep Kochhar and Ajeetesh Sandhu.

“At first, it was more like going back to the golf course to have fun again. It didn't matter what kind of scores we shot but we just wanted to enjoy ourselves,” said the Jhansi-native.

“Then it started getting competitive which is good as we all needed that to tune ourselves back to competition mode again.”

With the PGA Tour resuming next week with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, Shubhankar Sharma anticipates that the golf’s return to normalcy isn’t far off and is hence working on getting into the best shape possible.

“I’m looking forward to returning and competing on the Asian Tour as it is a great Tour and brought me much success in my career,” he said.

“I know I'll be totally prepared when I hit my first tee shot in a professional tournament then,” reckoned the Indian golfer.