Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma's reward for an impressive run of recent form will be a first-ever major appearance after the rising star was handed an invite to next month's Masters.
The Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex leader has enjoyed a meteoric rise of late, winning the Joburg Open to earn himself a place at the Open Championship and following that up with a win at the Maybank Championship.
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The 21-year-old, the youngest Indian player to win on Tour, rose to prominence on the worldwide stage at last week's WGC-Mexico Championship, where he held the halfway and 54-hole lead before slipping into a tie for ninth after a final-round 74. It's every golfer's dream to play in the Masters, and I'm no exception.
"Golf is a global game, and throughout our history we have extended invitations to deserving worldwide players not otherwise qualified", Augusta National and Masters chairperson Fred Ridley said in a statement.
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On getting the Masters' invitation, Shubhankar said, "I was quite tough on myself throughout the flight back to India, as I didn't finish the tournament the way I wanted it, but as soon as I got the call, all the pain got washed away". He will also be the fourth Indian to play in the Masters, after Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Anirban Lahiri.
Sharma has also booked a berth in the British Open after the Johannesburg win and has his sights set on more. "Although, I have to say, The Open is my favourite Major, although you can not compare Major tournaments". "I know my best will be good enough for a top ten or a top five or even a win".
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"I am very thankful that at such a young age I have that much of experience behind me and I think that is going to serve me well going forward", he said.