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Masters golf: Shubhankar enjoying the adulation

Ready to roll: Shubhankar Sharma, practising at the fabled Augusta National Golf Club greens, has the talent to make his debut appearance at the Masters a memorable one.

Ready to roll: Shubhankar Sharma, practising at the fabled Augusta National Golf Club greens, has the talent to make his debut appearance at the Masters a memorable one.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The ‘return’ of Tiger is big buzz as the quest for the green jacket begins

Set to play with 1987 winner Larry Mize and local Georgia man Russell Henley in the first round, India’s latest golfing sensation Shubhankar Sharma, a special invitee to the Masters, is already attracting a lot of attention and he is loving it.

“If all this helps to push golf in India, I am happy. I know there are a lot of good players back home and if I can inspire others to take up and some day get here and on PGA Tour, it will be fantastic,” said Shubhankar. He admitted he liked being the new young face of Indian golf.

The return of Tiger Woods, after missing 2016 and 2017 editions, have brought crowds in bigger numbers.

Tiger has been the big buzz. Coming on the heels of T-12, T-2 and T-5 in his last three starts, this comeback has seen him devoid of pain, which had become a part of his life since four surgeries and other problems.

There are just 87 players and barring the 2017 US Open winner, Brooks Koepka, every top player is here. That includes two left-handers, Phil Mickelson or Bubba Watson, who have won five of the seven Masters held in even numbered years since 2004.

Justin Thomas is in great form; Rory McIlroy needs only a Masters Green Jacket to complete a Grand Slam of Majors; Spieth wants a second Masters and there is Jason Day, who has a Major from PGA Championships but wants a Green Jacket and Rickie Fowler, who still has no Majors.

Add to them World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who slipped down the stairs to his house a day before 2017 Masters and had to pull out.

Last year Sergio Garcia ended all debates on why he has not won a Major. He won the 2017 Masters and now with a daughter named after Azalea, after famed flowers at Augusta National, he would love a repeat of that Masters win.

In the last few weeks, Shubhankar has played with Phil Mickelson in the lead group at WGC-Mexico on Sunday, with Sergio Garcia at the WGC-Match play and so he can rightfully dream of playing with Tiger at the Masters.

“I know everyone will be following Tiger. I did too when I used to watch him on TV,” said the Indian pro. Now the difference is he is in the field with Woods.

On Monday, Shubhankar played nine holes on the front, took a break and played another nine in the afternoon. On Tuesday, after a lengthy press conference, where international reporters were trying to cull as much as possible from him, Shubhankar was back on the course.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:02:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/masters-golf-shubhankar-enjoying-the-adulation/article23436875.ece

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