Shubhankar Sharma earns US Open berth with tied fifth finish at Sectional Qualifier

Shubhankar SharmaIndian golfing sensation Shubhankar Sharma added another feather to his cap by earning his ticket to the year’s second Major, the US Open, scheduled to be held at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, from June 14 to 17.

Two-time European Tour winner and world no. 77 Shubhankar qualified for his maiden US Open after finishing tied fifth at the Sectional Qualifier staged at Columbus, Ohio, on Monday. The top 14 players in the field of 120 made the grade. It was the Indian’s third attempt at qualifying for the US Open.

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, Sharma 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.

Sharma 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).