Sharma looks for good start to 2023 season in Abu Dhabi
Two of those excellent performances came in 2022, one a runner-up finish at this very tournament and at the same Yas Links and then there a third place at the Nedbank Challenge, the penultimate event of 2022.I had a great start and then it was a lull in the middle for various reasons some club issues, a niggle in the back and then Covid.
Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma will be hoping for a good start to the season when tees off at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships here on Thursday. At 26, Sharma is already feeling like a veteran as he begins his 11th year as a professional here. Entering the paid ranks at 16, he rose very fast. By 2018 he was on the DP World Tour and had two wins in matter of four starts around the turn of 2017-18.
On Thursday, he will start his first round with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen and Englishman Matthew Southgate from first tee, while Belgian Thomas Pieters, targeting back-to-back wins on the Yas Island, is paired with two other past champions Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood from the 10th tee.
Sharma will also try and prove once again that nice guys do win. In his years on DP World, he has earned praise not only for his game but also his great demeanour.
Pieters, the defending champion, said, ''Shubhankar (Sharma), he's one of the nicest kids I've ever met. His dad, as well. Always saying thank you, please. He is very well brought up. He's just a really nice kid. He's well-mannered. There's nothing to dislike about him.'' On Sharma's game, Pieters added, ''He's got a very good golf game obviously. I think he hits really good stretches where he putts it well and drives it well, and then he goes off and has a couple months or half-year that he doesn't really perform. But that's golf and that's just a part of growing up and dealing with those kind of stretches. Everybody has them.'' Sharma has kept his card since, but has not been able to convert close finishes into wins. Two of those excellent performances came in 2022, one a runner-up finish at this very tournament and at the same Yas Links and then there a third place at the Nedbank Challenge, the penultimate event of 2022.
''I had a great start and then it was a lull in the middle for various reasons – some club issues, a niggle in the back and then Covid. There were Top-15s in Kenya, Dutch Open and Singapore, but towards the finish was strong with third place in Nedbank in South Africa,'' Sharma said, recalling last season. ''At the DP World Tour Championships I did just enough finishing in mid 40s but that helped me finish the year in Top-30 on the DP World and secure a place for the 2023 (British) Open. So, I would call the year a mixed bag.'' Sharma, who has played at Abu Dhabi every year since he came on the Tour fully in 2018, loves the place. ''It is a great place. Great places to go to and see. I went to the Ferrari World (across the Yas Links) here and I have great memories from the tournament last year. The elite Rolex series events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are a great way to start the year.
''I played with Viktor Hovland and Rafa Cabrera Bello last year in the final and ahead were Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters. It was really close. A late bogey cost me a chance to get into a play-off.'' Séamus Power makes his tournament debut following his appearance in last week's Hero Cup. The Irishman also won his second PGA TOUR title at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship in October last year and currently leads the FedExCup standings.
There are 19 members from last week's Hero Cup teams, including the 2021 winner Tyrrell Hatton, as well as Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald and his vice captains Thomas Bjørn, Nicolas Colsaerts and Edoardo Molinari.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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