Hero Indian Open champion Matt Wallace on Sunday showered accolades on rising Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma, saying he has the game and temperament to go a long way.
“For him to achieve all the things he has done, he has been phenomenal. He has got so much talent and the things that he has done in the last couple of months have been phenomenal,” Wallace said.
“I’ve done something similar, but on a lower level. I won six times on the Alps Tour and he won twice at European Tour within a short time. I think he’s going to do really well. He has got the game, he has got the head and I think he is going to go a long way.”
Wallace and Shubhankar were overnight joint leaders going into the final round.
As the day progressed Shubhankar struggled to a three-over 75 to finish tied 7th, while the Englishman shot four-under 68 in regulation play and then overcame compatriot Andrew Johnston in the play-off to win his second European Tour title.
“I’m ecstatic. I feel amazing. It was a hard week and I think, I played great. Ever since being three over through eight at the start of the week I’ve played some of the best golf of my life,” he said.
“It was satisfying to master this course. Dave (his caddy) was saying that it was set up sometimes like the U.S. Open style sometimes. You can hit great shots, but it can run into the rough or slope. So, it’s particularly satisfying.
“There are some great champions. SSP (Chawrasia) held it for a couple of years and I am so happy to get my name on the trophy.”
Wallace really attacked the pin in the 18th hole during play-off as his second approach shot sailed over the water hazard and landed on the green and he sealed the contest with a birdie.
“I hit some really good shots and that play-off: I pumped it down there on the last and it went along way and then a four iron went even further than I thought it would so I was jacked up a bit. To hit two shots like that is exactly why I play the game.
“I have never thought of playing it safe during the playoff, even during regulation play when I was farther out. I was swinging it that good,” he said.
Wallace singled out his biggest strong point this week.
“I feel that my long iron play this week was the best part of my game, so as soon as I was all the way down on the end of the fairway, I was going to hit an iron and go for the green.”
Wallace sank five birdies against a sole bogey at the 16th to turn in four-under 68 to finish the regulation play at 11-under 277.
“I was most nervous on 16th tee, the second shot, I hit it bunker on the downslope. I hit an unbelievable shot out of there and holed the putt.
“Stephen Gallacher put his arm around me and said ‘keep going, kid’. That helped me a lot as he’s a veteran. To make a bogey like that was key. I went to the tee box on 17th and got back into the game.”
Wallace said he approached the final day like an opening round and was aggressive as he knew he was not going to be favourite with local fans supporting co-leader Shubhankar.
The Englishman said it was midway through third round that he felt he was in contention.
Wallace described the DLF course as the toughest he has played on.
“The back nine is a lot harder than the front nine. I’ll learn from it and I’m looking forward to playing in similar conditions next time,” he said.
Asked about his targets, Wallace said: “I had a few targets set at the start of the year, but I’ve tweaked it. In the end, I just want to play good golf. Today’s an example of that. This week has taught me a lot. Hopefully, it can be the start of a few things coming up.”