Shubhankar Sharma is set to make his debut at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf later this year as he was one of the first 28 players announced by tournament officials today.
Contested at The Metropolitan Golf Club in the Melbourne Sandbelt from November 22 to 25, 2018, the 59th ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf will see 56 players vie for the largest prize-money purse in Australian golf, with US$7 million on offer.
“I'm really excited to qualify for my first World Cup of Golf at The Metropolitan. Since the start of the year, I made this event as one of my goals to try and qualify as it has so much history, tradition and a wonderful list of past champions which include many of the great names and legends in golf,” said Sharma.
“To have the opportunity to represent India at a prestigious event like this is truly an honour and I will be give it everything to try and win the World Cup for my country. We don't get too many opportunities to play for our nation, so it's going to be fun with whoever I pick as my partner when we get down to Australia.
“I have heard the Metropolitan is a fantastic venue and is amongst the best sandbelt golf courses in Melbourne. I'm really looking forward to visiting the city and enjoying myself both on and off the golf course.”
The 22-year-old Sharma has recent wins at the 2017 Joburg Open and 2018 Maybank Championship, and this week sits at No. 105 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He also carded a pair of top-25 finishes on the PGA TOUR this season, most notably a tie for ninth at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in March where he led into the final round.
He no doubt recognizes that he’s the future of Indian golf. “It means a great deal to me,” Sharma said earlier this year at The Masters. “I feel like if I can inspire kids back home in any way, it will definitely be a great thing for me, and I'll be really happy if I can do that.
“I went back for the Indian Open, and I had so many kids coming up to me and so many parents coming up to me and congratulating me, and I think that really makes me very happy that when I see more and more kids coming in the game, more and more people coming and following me. So, yeah, definitely it has a good sound to it, that I am representing the future of golf, and I think it helps that I'm really young and kids can look up to me and say that if he can do it, we can do it as well.”
India first competed in the World Cup in 1969, with Shadi Lal and Ryda Valjii on the team. India’s best finish in the tournament came in 2005, in Portugal, when the team of Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa finished ninth.
The committed player from each of the top 28 countries has until 5 p.m. USA eastern time on Thursday, 20 September to choose his partner for the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf. The field of 56 players will be final as of 20 September.
The 72-hole stroke play team format will feature Four-ball (best ball) play in the first and third rounds and Foursomes (alternate shot) play in the second and final rounds. In 2016, Danes Søren Kjeldsen and Thorbjørn Olesen shot a final-round 66 in foursomes at Kingston Heath to win Denmark’s first World Cup of Golf title by four strokes over the United States, China and France.
The 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf is a 72-hole, two-man team format, and affords the opportunity for the top players in the game to represent their countries on an international stage. The first and third days of competition are four-ball (best ball) format and the second and final days are foursomes (alternate shot) play. The 2018 event marks the sixth time in the tournament’s history that it has been played in Australia and the third consecutive in the Melbourne Sandbelt region.
Widely regarded as one of the finest championship courses in Australia, The Metropolitan Golf Club consistently enjoys a reputation as one of the best-conditioned and most beautiful courses in the country.