Sharma went on to register four top-10s during 2017, and several weeks after missing out on his European Tour card at Qualifying School late last year, the young Indian pulled off a career-changing victory at the Joburg Open in South Africa, highlighted by a stunning 61 during the second round.
In February, Sharma was at it again, this time producing some final round fireworks at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia where he closed with a scintillating 62 to win by two strokes. From being ranked a lowly 521st in November, Sharma has since shot up to 64th on the world rankings (as at March 12) and seized the lead on both the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity rankings.
The early season success rewarded Sharma with a maiden World Golf Championships appearance in Mexico City and competing against a backdrop of global stars which included the world’s top-5 golfers and 45 players from the top-50, Sharma brilliantly rose to the occasion and captivated fans and media alike with his wonderful all-around game and charming personality.
Cards of 65 and 66 pushed him into the halfway lead and a third round 69 kept him two ahead of a star-studded pack. It earned him a final day grouping with World Golf Hall of Famer, Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament for his 43rd PGA TOUR title after a pulsating final day shootout. Such was the dizzying excitement back home that #GoShubhankar trended on Twitter in India during the final day in Mexico.
Despite his final round 74, Sharma stood very tall and made time for his new-found fans by taking photos with them and performed the obligatory media duties with a smile despite the huge disappointment on a day when his putter went dead cold.
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