Shubhankar Sharma eyes European sojourn with Olympic qualification in mind

Shubhankar Sharma eyes European sojourn with Olympic qualification in mind

Shubhankar Sharma resumes his European Tour campaign at this week’s Austrian Golf Open in Atzenbrugg near Vienna after a refreshing two-week break back home in which he mixed practice and leisure at Himachal Pradesh's Palampur, along with friend and fellow professional Khalin Joshi.

The 2018 Asian Tour of Merit champion Shubhankar, even though not at his best in recent months, has shown some spark early in the year with three top-30s from his six starts on the European Tour including a best finish of tied 22nd at the Dubai Desert Classic.

“It’s been an average year for me so far but I’m looking at the positives. I’m playing much better than the results suggest, I’m in a good frame of mind and in good physical condition at the moment,” said 24-year-old Sharma.

The 24-year-old talented golfer is aware that playing on the European Tour for five weeks on the trot gives him a great opportunity to get back in reckoning for the Tokyo Olympics.

Sharma, who is currently 101st on the European Tour Race to Dubai, said, “The Olympics are definitely on my mind as it would be an honour to represent India at one of the biggest sporting events. I know a few good weeks in Europe would bring me back in contention for an Olympic berth but I’m not thinking too far ahead at the moment and am just focused on the job at hand.

“One of my goals this year is to finish high on the Race to Dubai. It’s going to be quite a challenge as all the events over the next six months will be played in the tough European conditions with the wind and weather coming into play. I’m playing here at the Diamond Country Club in Austria for the first time and the wind and freezing temperature will be a big test this week,” added Shubhankar, as the European Tour now moves to European soil after staging its first six events of the year in the Middle-East and Africa.

Shubhankar Sharma and SSP Chawrasia, India's regular faces on the European Tour, will be joined by Ajeetesh Sandhu in the Austrian Open, the European Tour's first event on mainland Europe in 2021, from Thursday.

Sharma, a two-time European Tour winner, has played six events and made cut in three with T-22 at Omega Dubai Desert Classic as the best.

SSP Chawrasia played four European events in late 2020 and missed cut in three and in 2021 he missed cut in all three starts.

Ajeetesh Sandhu has not played outside India since the Malaysian Open in March 2020.