Ahead of this week's NBO Oman Open and with the golfing world at his feet, 21 year old Shubhankar Sharma gives us an insight into his whirlwind couple months on the European Tour which sees the Indian top of the Race to Dubai after two victories.
I was brought up in a religious household and the presence of God in our home was always strong. It's from that I began meditating which I do from time to time, usually on planes when I'm alone. This allows me to recalibrate and allows me to stay very grounded at this moment in time when there is a lot said about me - an attribute my mother is very strong on.
Growing up in the Tiger Wood era I, like almost all golfers of my generation were naturally drawn to him. I would set my alarm and wake up in the middle of the night just to see him compete. That said I grew up watching so many successful Indian golfers complete on the world stage such as Arjun Atwal and Jeev Jeev Milkha Singh who is from my same town - Chandigarh. Jeev has always been very helpful in sharing his experience on everything and was one of the first to congratulate me when I won in Joburg. For these guys to be so willing to share their experience with me, having played at the top for so long is invaluable to me and has helped a lot.
Previous to this season I had been playing on the Asia Tour for three years, doing enough to keep my card and working hard on my game. Admittedly it took me some time to adapt, mature and feel comfortable playing week to week. Ultimately, these invaluable experiences have taken me to where I am now - with two European Tour wins in four months and leading the Race to Dubai.
The week I won in Joburg I travelled to South Africa without my caddie or coach. There were no Indians in that particular field and I hired a local caddie for the week. My friends laughed at some of the subsequent media coverage of my win when I was referred to as a shy, quiet personality. The reality is that I'm a chatterbox and try to socialise with other players when out on Tour. Of course they are many Asian Tour players playing in Europe - S.S.P Chawrasia, Gavin Green but I'm really trying to meet as many new players out here as possible.
Weeks prior I had worked hard with my coach,I felt comfortable after some equipment changes and spent time trying to adapt to European grasses like bent. I took that same momentum onto the Maybank Championship and it's really satisfying to see my hard work starting to pay off.
It was a little surreal registering in the clubhouse at Abu Dhabi last month when I walked in to see Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy & Henrik Stenson. I grew up watching these guys and dreaming of playing on the European Tour and now I'm suddenly competing alongside them. That same week Henrik Stenson came up to me on the chipping green to congratulate me on my win at Joburg which made my day. As things would have it we played together a few weeks later at the Maybank which was again a great moment for me. I made sure to get a few photos of us together before our round and we shared many good conversations between shots.
Being an Indian I love cricket, of course but I also love soccer. My teams are Barcelona & Manchester United and I try and watch as much EPL soccer as possible with it being much easier to see in India. My hope is that I can go to a match in person this season when the European Tour visits England.
it feels great to be in the spotlight. Since my two victories I have had a lot of media interest which has been really nice with the reaction in India being really big. I think all golfers in India are excited at the growing interest in the game and for me to be at the forefront of that as the top ranked Indian golfer makes me feel very proud.