US Open Golf 2018: Shubhankar’s dinner date with Ernie Els

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Shubhankar Sharma is excited on the eve of the US Open Golf Championship. The cause is not just the prospect of playing and a strong commitment to excel at the Shinnecock Hills course in New York, but a dinner date with a golf legend – Ernie Els.

India’s new golfing sensation Shubhankar Sharma was all fired up after attending a dinner hosted by Ernie Els, the captain for the 2019 Presidents Cup, and looked desperate to produce a fine show at the US Open, which tees off at the Shinnecock Hills in New York today (Thursday), reports PTI.

“I was quite excited to attend the dinner hosted by Ernie Els. He has always been someone I have looked up and he was one of the stars who kindled my interest in golf way back in 2008 (in Delhi),” Shubhankar said.

“There would be nothing I would love more than to play on the team he leads at the Presidents Cup next year,” added the Indian as he got ready for one final look at the course before the first round a day later.

Shubhankar was among the whole lot of Internationals at the Els Dinner and he admitted he loved every minute of it. He and Anirban Lahiri are widely seen among contenders for a place on the Internationals team for the event next year in Melbourne.

“This is one Major I have tried to qualify for in the past and failed to do so. So, it was very satisfying to do so this time. I had a good weekend at the Colonial (tied 20th) but was disappointed to miss the cut at the Memorial. In hindsight it made me more determined to do well at the US Open qualifiers in Columbus,” said Shubhankar.

“With a berth to the Open (next month) already done and possibly the PGA later this year, this is indeed a big year and I want to make the most of it and get to the PGA Tour,” added the 21-year-old, who hit the headlines with two great wins in Johannesburg and Malaysia.

Talking of the course, Shubhankar said, “I have heard and read a lot about this course and I know it is a tough test but I love such challenges and this is what pro golf is all about. I am looking forward to it and hopefully, I will be able to make a mark on the weekend.”

Shubhankar has been paired with Thorbjorn Olesen and Patrick Rogers at 8.24 am for the first round.

Shubhankar had two sessions of practice at the course, which will be the battlefield this week. While Shubhankar is the focus of Indian and Asian fans, the world is waiting with bated breath to witness how Tiger Woods performs at his first US Open appearance since 2015.

The US Open is also the Major, where Woods won his 14th and last Major in 2008. It has now been 10 years since he won a Major and this latest comeback, which began with his own event, the Hero World Challenge in December last.

Since then Woods has had some good finishes including contending strongly at the Valspar Championship, where he was a close second.

Woods, apart, there will be a lot of interest in how the other veteran Phil Mickelson does. This is the only Major Mickelson has not won despite coming second numerous times.

Dustin Johnson, who reclaimed his world No 1 spot last week, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Masters champion Patrick Reed and defending champion Brooks Koepka are all raring to go as the peoples’ Major gets underway tomorrow


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