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Shubhankar Sharma upbeat for title quest at Panasonic Open India

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Young talent Shubhankar Sharma of India hopes his recent run of good form will lead him to glory at the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India this week. The 20-year-old Indian enjoyed a recent top-five finish in Manila as he broke into top-60 on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, putting himself in prime position to secure his full Tour card for 2017.

With two top-five finishes in the last two Panasonic Open India, Sharma will be relishing his prospects when he returns to the venerable Delhi Golf Club from December 1 to 4 to challenge for a maiden victory on the region’s premier Tour.

“I am feeling good about my game at the moment and it is a great feeling to have heading into the tournament which has a special place in my heart. I claimed my first ever top-five in this tournament two years ago. I think I have a great affinity with this course.

“The season so far has been good but not great, honestly. I expected to do a lot better but I am happy with where I am standing at the moment. I would love to finish the year on a winning note. It will be a fitting tribute to the course where I have some great memories of my golfing career so far,” said the Panchkula-based Sharma.

Sharma, who is currently 58th on the Merit list, reckoned a solid iron play will be key to conquering the challenging Delhi course. He will be looking to take advantage of his course knowledge to put himself in contention again.

“You have to hit your irons well. Keeping the ball on the fairways will be the key. You need to take calculated chances with the woods, and you may get rewarded. It is a course that challenges every aspects of your game. You need to be feeling good with everything to play well here,” Sharma said.

Sharma will feature in the sixth edition of the Panasonic Open India alongside countrymen Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh, who enjoyed a tied-second finish in Indonesia two weeks ago for his best result so far this season.

Chinese star Liang Wen-chong, Mardan Mamat of Singapore and Sri Lankan Mithun Perera will also be part of the elite field vying for honours at the full-field Asian Tour event.

With the Panasonic Open India being the penultimate event of the 2016 season, players will have everything to play for as they vie to break into top-60 on the final Order of Merit, which is the cut-off mark for players to secure their Tour cards for the 2017 season.

Past champions of the Panasonic Open India include reigning Order of Merit champion Anirban Lahiri (2011), Digvijay Singh (2012), Wade Ormsby (2013), S.S.P. Chawrasia (2014) and Kumar (2015). Australian Ormsby is the only non-Indian to win the event.

The popular Panasonic Open India was launched in 2011 with a prize fund of US$300,000 before increasing to US$400,000 in 2015.