PGTI: Teenager Shubhankar Sharma is youngest Rolex Ranking leader

Shubhankar Sharma Round 2New Delhi: There’s a good mix of youth and experience at the top of the Rolex Ranking after the first six events of the year. While teenager Shubhankar Sharma of Gurgaon has dominated proceedings with two wins and a runner-up finish from three starts to lead the rankings with earnings of Rs. 13,00,000, the seasoned Feroz Ali Mollah of Kolkata is hot on the leader’s heels in second place with earnings of Rs. 11,38,448, courtesy a win and two other top-10s.

Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu is another youngster who has made a mark in the 2016 season so far with a win and four other top-10s. Ajeetesh, the 2016 birdie leader, who has 104 birdies to his credit this season, is in third place on the money list with earnings of Rs. 11,24,808.

Among the rookies, Jalandhar’s Gunvir Rana (47), Delhi’s Sachin Baisoya (48) and Gurgaon’s Veer Ahlawat (60) have all shown promise with some decent performances to be inside the top-60 in the rankings.

But the story of the season has been the coming of age of Shubhankar Sharma. Shubhankar, who had become the youngest winner on the PGTI at age 17 when he won his maiden title in 2014, had come close to winning on several occasions in the following season but somehow had fallen just short.

However, Sharma’s hot form has been a revelation in 2016 as he managed to reverse the trend with impressive victories at the PGTI Players Championship at Eagleton and the Kolkata Classic. Shubhankar’s phenomenal 24-under total at Eagleton matched the PGTI record for the lowest tournament score.

Sharma became the youngest-ever Rolex Ranking leader at 19 years of age when he won the Kolkata event in March. The pro from the DLF Golf & Country Club, who earned his card on the Asian Tour earlier this year, has now set his sights on becoming the youngest-ever Rolex Ranking champion in 2016.

“The key to my consistency this year has been my improved hitting and putting. I’ve made a lot of crucial putts from 10 to 15 feet. That’s something I’ve really worked on. I’ve also put myself in contention every time and capitalized on the opportunities that have come my way.

“Playing on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) this season has given me lots of exposure and has been an ideal preparation ground for the bigger events on the Asian Tour and PGTI.

“Winning the Rolex Player of the Year is definitely one of my goals this year, especially after the fabulous start to the season. If I do achieve it, it’ll be really big for me. However, it’s not going to be easy, as I’ll be playing on the Asian Tour as well and therefore missing out on some of the PGTI events. I’ll have to make the most of my opportunities on the PGTI,” said a confident Shubhankar.

It now remains to be seen whether Shubhankar can sustain his form and create history by becoming the youngest-ever Rolex Ranking champion at the age of 20 later this year.