Hailing from Jammu, born in Jhansi and settled in Delhi for the past three-and-a-half years, 16-year-old Shubhankar Sharma is one straight-talking teenager. “I have no friends on the course,” he told t2, moments after winning the Tata Steel 112th Amateur Golf Championship of India on Sunday afternoon. A quick chat with the champ...
|Pictures: Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
How are you feeling at the moment?
It feels great! Entering the finals was a big thing for me. And playing with one of my best friend’s (Viraj Madappa)… our rivalry goes back to the junior circuit, but we have always been good friends off the course. Winning against him is a blessing for me. That guy, he can really play very well. And you need to get your A (quality) game out to beat him. I am very proud and happy that I beat him today. I don’t think I could have had a tougher opponent than Viraj. That guy is playing some great golf. He won the all-India juniors.
Who encouraged you to take up golf?
I’ll have to say my father. He is in the army.
How was the Royal course?
RCGC is such a good course… great layout.... Now my home course is the DLF Golf and Country Club, one of the best in India.
A lot is being said about young golfers turning pro very early…
I will give up my amateur status this year, but I have yet to decide when. Golf has become a young game these days. You have to start young to reach a level and that’s what I am trying to do.
Tiger Woods is an all-time favourite. Rory McIlroy is much more talented. As a package he is different... he has such a great swing, you feel lucky to be watching him! But when it comes to mental toughness, Tiger is just a cut above. Among the Indian golfers, it is Jeev (Milkha Singh). He has taken his concentration to a different level.
Shubhankar cut a cake, flanked by Ashok Malik (left) and H.M. Nerurkar, managing director, Tata Steel Limited. Malik, a five-time all-India amateur title winner, was felicitated by Nerurkar for his contribution to the game. “At 20, I happened to be the youngest winner for quite a few years.... The one thing that has changed is the tremendous distances the youngsters are now hitting the ball,” said Malik. He also had a word of caution for young golfers turning pro very early. “Tiger Woods, with all his potential, won three USGA junior amateurs and then USGA amateurs before he turned professional.”