Shubhankar stamps his authority at Eagleton; bags second career title with emphatic six-stroke margin

Shubhankar Sharma Round 2Bengaluru: It was Shubhankar Sharma all the way on the final day of the PGTI Players Championship presented by Eagleton – The Golf Resort. The precocious teenager from the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, drove home the overnight three-shot advantage with a scorching seven-under-65 in the final round to be crowned champion with a total score of 24-under-264, a massive six shots ahead of the rest of the field.

Sri Lankan Anura Rohana was the runner-up at 18-under-270 after a final round of 68 at the Rs. 30 lakh event.

Shubhankar Sharma (65-70-64-65) carried forward his form from Bangladesh last week where he had recorded his career-best Asian Tour finish of third place with a sparkling performance at Eagleton. It was poetic justice for the 19-year-old who had suffered a heart-breaking playoff loss at Eagleton, just over three months back, to local lad Chikkarangappa. Shubhankar had birdied the last four holes on that occasion to take the match into a playoff.

But this time around it was smooth sailing for Sharma, who became the youngest winner on the PGTI at age 17 when he won his maiden title in Kochi two years back. The Asian Tour rookie made an early dent in the leaderboard with a hat-trick of birdies from the second to the fourth. With no competition in sight, Shubhankar seemed to be on course for an easy win courtesy three more birdies on the next six holes.

Shubhankar then had the title in the bag after a crucial par-save from 10 feet on the 14th even as his nearest competitors Anura Rohana and Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh were a distant five shots and eight shots behind respectively. Sharma finally closed the week with a birdie on the 18th to register his second professional win in emphatic fashion.

Shubhankar, who shot the day’s best for the second day in succession, took home the winner’s cheque worth Rs. 4,50,000 at the season’s second event to be placed fourth in the Rolex Ranking 2016. Kolkata’s Feroz Ali Mollah, the winner of the season-opener last week, continues to lead the money list with earnings of Rs. 9,44,260 so far. Mollah secured tied 15th place at Eagleton.

Shubhankar said, “This win is a big morale-booster for me ahead of the Indian Open next month. With experience I’ve learnt how to handle myself while leading in a tournament. The playoff loss here at Eagleton during the TAKE Solutions India Masters was an important learning curve for me. It in fact, helped me grow as a player and gave me the confidence to perform this week.

“I set myself a target of six-under for the day so was happy to end up with a seven-under. I thought a five-under on the front-nine would set it up for me and I managed to achieve that. I did well on the par-5s with birdies on three of them and also sank a couple of 12-footers on the front-nine. After the good par-save on the 14th, I knew I was almost there.

“I’m thankful to a lot of seniors on the PGTI and fellow Indians on the Asian Tour who have given me sound advice from time to time. That has helped me progress as a player,” added Sharma, an Army officer’s son, who traces his roots to Jammu.

Anura Rohana (68-68-66-68) and Sujjan Singh (68-65-70-68) never really threatened the leader as they finished second and third at 18-under-270 and 17-under-271 respectively.

The battle for second place took an interesting turn when Sujjan chipped-in from the bunker for an eagle-two on the 17th which moved him within one stroke of Anura. The two golfers then made pars on the last hole as Rohana went on to claim the runner-up position.

Mukesh Kumar of Mhow was fourth at 16-under-272 while Noida’s Vikrant Chopra was a further shot back in fifth place.

Among the Karnataka golfers, Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi was tied sixth and 13-under-275, Udayan Mane, another Bengalurean was tied ninth at 12-under-276 along with Mysuru’s Harish K. Two more Bengaluru-based professionals, M Dharma and Chikkarangappa S, secured tied 12th and 14th places at 11-under-277 and 10-under-278 respectively.

Bengaluru’s Kanishk Sinha finished as the best amateur. He was tied 41st at one-over-289.