Golfer Shubhankar earns US Open berth
Columbus (Ohio): Fast-rising golfer Shubhankar Sharma added another feather to his cap by earning his ticket to the US Open, scheduled to be held in Southampton, New York, from June 14 to 17, as he finished tied fifth at the Sectional Qualifier on Monday.
It was the two-time winner on the European Tour and world No 77's third attempt at qualifying for the US Open. The top 14 players in the field of 120 made the grade for the tournament to be played at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
Twenty-one-year-old Sharma, the current Asian Tour money list leader, returned a three-under 69 at the Brookside Golf & Country Club and followed that up with a four-under 68 at the Lakes Golf & Country Club to finish with a seven-under 137 total at the 36-hole qualifying event.
Shubhankar, who made his Major debut at the Masters earlier this year after receiving an invite, is now set to become the fifth Indian to play the US Open when he tees it up at the 118th edition of the event next week.
The four Indians who have previously appeared at the US Open include Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Shiv Kapur and Anirban Lahiri. Shiv Kapur's tied 23rd at the 2014 US Open is the best finish by an Indian at the event.
After setting the record for becoming the youngest Indian to play the Masters, Shubhankar will now also have the distinction of being the youngest Indian to play the US Open at age 21. Anirban Lahiri held the previous record as he had appeared at the 2015 US Open at age 27.
Soon after his qualification for the 2018 US Open, Shubhankar tweeted, saying: "I am extremely excited to share that I have qualified for the @usopengolf. Third time lucky but worth every chance I took to get there. It also validates how competitive my primary home tours @PGTITOUR @asiantourgolf and, of course, @EuropeanTour are! Thank you, guys! @OWGRltd."
Interestingly, Shubhankar will also be playing the 2018 British Open, having booked his place at the year's third Major after claiming his breakthrough international win at the Joburg Open last December.
The Chandigarh resident had reached a career-high world ranking of 64 in March this year largely thanks to his two European Tour triumphs at the Joburg Open and Maybank Championship and top 10 finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and the Hero Indian Open.
Shubhankar now has a good chance of emerging as only the third Indian to play all four Majors in the same year after Jeev Milkha Singh (2007) and Anirban Lahiri (2015).