Young golfer Shubhankar Sharma will lead a large Indian contingent of 14 players at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) which gets underway at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club on Thursday. The Indian contingent has both youth and experience ranging from veteran two-time Asian Tour No. 1 Jeev Milkha Singh, whose T-18 last week was his best finish in nearly two years to Viraj Madappa, the latest Asian Tour winner from India, who grabbed the Take Solutions Masters title in August.
However, the defending champion Ajeetesh Sandhu has skipped the event in favour of Dunhill Links Championships, where he got a spot, and the in-form Gaganjeet Bhullar has clearly opted for rest ahead of three big weeks at CIMB Classic, CJ Cup and WGC-HSBC.
Apart from Shubhankar and Jeev Milkha Singh, the Indians in the field included SSP Chawrasia, Shiv Kapur, Rahil Gangjee, Chiragh Kumar, Viraj Madappa, S Chikkarangappa, Himmat Rai, Udayan Mane, Rashid Khan, Honey Baisoya and Karandeep Kochhar.
“I’m very happy to be back in Asia and also because all of my friends are here. It has been a very long year for me especially with all the travelling,” said Sharma, the current leader on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings. “But now that I’m back, I get to spend time with my family and friends and it just brings back old memories, which I’m very happy for.
“It was a very big honour to receive the Arjuna Award from the President. Just to be presented with the award and to be mentioned in the same breath as the other top athletes in India is something I’ll always remember.” Talking about his season, Shubhankar said, “It has been a whirlwind season for me. I played all four Majors, most of the WGCs and so it has been a dream year for me.
“There’s lots of learning and new experiences and I’m really happy I got the chance to do all of this. I’ve never played the CIMB before and it should be very exciting. I’ve watched it on TV before and my second win obviously came in Malaysia, so I’m looking forward to returning there and putting up another good show.”
The tournament assumes greater importance as it is the final event before qualification closes for the lucrative events in Malaysia next week and China at the end of the month. South Africa’s Justin Harding, who is the highest ranked player on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) this week, is also seeking another grandstand finish after a breakout year on the Asian Tour.