Shubhankar prospers at Saujana

Shubhankar Sharma ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

Shah Alam [SELANGOR]: A red-hot Shubhankar Sharma of India fired 10 birdies for a remarkable 10-under-par 62 to claim a stunning two-shot victory at the US$3 million Maybank Championship on Sunday.

At the age of 21, the talented Indian overcame a four-shot deficit with a dominant display to clinch his second Asian Tour and European Tour title with a winning total of 21-under-par 267 in windy conditions at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.

In his fourth start since winning the Joburg Open in South Africa in December, Sharma produced a sensational final round where he made five birdies in each half which included clutch birdie putts on 17 and 18.

He defeated co-overnight leader Jorge Campillo of Spain, who eagled the opening hole before returning with a 68 to settle for second place, while Pablo Larrazabal and Ryan Fox of New Zealand finished in third place after posting identical 66s.

Khalin Joshi of India, who is Sharma’s roommate this week, finished in a share of fifth place alongside Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, Hideto Tanihara, Nino Bertasio and world number 47 Dylan Frittelli of South Africa.

A disappointing final round of 73 saw local hope Gavin Kyle Green drop to a share of 39th placing on nine-under-par, one shot ahead of fellow Malaysian Amir Nazrin Jailani, who signed off with a solid 68.

267 – Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 70-69-66-62
269 – Jorge Campillo (ESP) 69-66-66-68
270 – Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 70-70-64-66, Ryan Fox (NZL) 68-68-68-66
272 – Nino Bertasio (ITA) 68-65-70-69, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 74-66-63-69, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 71-64-68-69, Khalin Joshi (IND) 67-70-65-70, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 69-66-66-71
273 – Berry Henson (USA) 69-68-65-71

Shubhankar Sharma ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

Sharma produced a great comeback after struggling in the opening two rounds where he was tied in 48th place at the halfway stage. A third round 66 put him within four shots of the lead and he charged into contention on the final round when he got off to a hot front nine.

He marked his card with further birdies on 11, 13 and 14 which gave him a two-shot advantage  on the 16th hole as he romped to victory in emphatic style to become the first Asian to win the third edition of the Maybank Championship.

“I played pretty solid and it wasn’t easy because it was windy. I kept pushing the whole day. I knew I had to make a lot birdies to catch the leaders. I made a lot of birdies in the front nine and just continued on the back.

“To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about the leaderboard. I wanted to set a target in my mind and try to achieve it. On the 13th I knew I was somewhere near the leaders but on 16 I knew I had a two-shot lead. I told myself if I can make two more birdies, that would give me a good chance to win,” said Sharma, who dropped only three shots the entire week.

The victory earned him US$500,000 and moved him to the top of the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings and on the Race to Dubai on the European Tour.

“I’m over the moon. The last two months have been fantastic for me.It is still early in the season and I haven’t thought about winning the Habitat for Humanity Standings. I’m also leading in the Race to Dubai but I’m not thinking about it because there are so many events left. If I play well enough, I will have a good chance to win the Habitat for Humanity Standings.

“This win is great because it opens so many doors for me. I’m also playing in The Open so I’m excited about that. All and all, it is a great day,” he added.