Gurugram: Two-time DP World Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma is delighted to be back at the Hero Indian Open after three years.
The 26-year-old Shubhankar, who has five Major appearances to his credit, is one of the pre-event favourites and among the top Indian contenders for the title considering his five-year long experience on the DP World Tour and the fact that he is extremely familiar with the conditions at his former home course, the DLF Golf and Country Club.
Sharma, former Asia No. 1, who had bagged tied seventh place at the 2018 edition of his national open at the same venue, said, “I’m very happy that the event is back. It’s like a fifth major, I’ve said that countless times this week. It’s very, very special and I’m very happy it’s back, especially at DLF.
“This course is very special to me. This is where I played quite a lot from 2012 to 2016, around the time that I joined the Tour and it’s always great coming back. The course is in great nick and it’s slightly different to what it was three years ago when I last played the Indian Open in 2019. The bushes have grown, the trees have grown, so it’s definitely tighter.
“It means a lot to have this event. I’ve been playing on the DP World Tour for five years now but quite a few Indian players are getting their first experience of proper international golf. A lot of good Indian players have emerged in the last few years and this event is great for them, they’re all very excited.”
Sharma, currently ranked 205 in the world, was also excited about the recent alliance between the DP World Tour and the PGTI and fellow Indian Manu Gandas earning a card on the DP World Tour as a result of the alliance.
Shubhankar said, “For the PGTI Order of Merit winner to get a direct entry on to the DP World Tour is such a great step by both the tours. The experience of playing on the DP World Tour, you can’t buy that. The amount that Manu is going to learn in the coming years and what the next few PGTI Order of Merit winners will learn playing in Europe will serve them well through their careers.
“It will be great to have Manu around at the events. I have a lot of friends on the Tour, but it will be nice to have someone from my country who I know so well. I’ve grown up playing with him, we’re the same age, we played a lot of junior golf together, we’ve known each other since we were 10-year-olds.”
There are 32 Indians in the field at the US$ 2 million event and that includes three-time Hero Indian Open winner, Jyoti Randhawa, and the two-time HIO winner, SSP Chawrasia. The event will be played from February 23 – 26.