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.
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.
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.
Did you know?
- Sharma dropped only three shots the entire week where he had one bogey in round one, two and three. He was flawless today.
- This is Sharma’s fourth start since winning at the Joburg Open in South Africa in December.
- His final round 62 is his joint lowest score on the Asian Tour in relation to par. He shot a 61 (par 71) in the second round of the Joburg Open and a 62 on the last day of the 2016 Resorts World Manila Masters.
- Sharma’s winning total of 21-under is the lowest winning score at the Maybank Championship. His two-shot victory equals the largest winning margin in the event. Marcus Fraser also won by two shots in the inaugural edition in 2016.
- He is the first Asian to win the Maybank Championship and second Asian Tour member after Fraser to clinch the title.
- The last time an Indian won in Malaysia was Anirban Lahiri in 2015. He went on to win the Order of Merit title in the same year.
- This is Sharma’s second Maybank Championship appearance. He finished tied ninth last year to seal his Asian Tour card.
- The victory will likely push Sharma to 70th place on the Official World Golf Ranking. He will potentially be the highest ranked Indian in the world.
- Sharma is one of the rising stars on the Asian Tour and he joins a list of young champions to emerge from the region’s premier Tour.
- Overnight co-leader Campillo will continue his search for a career’s first victory. He opened with an eagle before shooting one birdie against as many bogeys on his inward nine. He closed with two birdies to finish second on his own.
- Joshi is close friends and roommates with Joshi this week. He finished tied fifth to earn US$92,880 and has virtually secured his Asian Tour card for next season.
Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) – Final Round 62 (-10), Total 267 (-21)
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.
The last two months have changed my life. I’ve been a member on the Asian Tour for a while and I will continue to be a member on the Asian Tour. I’ve always dreamt of winning and now I’m a two-time winner on the Asian Tour and European Tour.
I didn’t make a birdie on the first hole which is quite disappointing because that’s quite an easy hole. I wasn’t putting too well just the way I was driving the ball I knew The win in Joburg helped a lot. Especially today, I was very calm on the course. I wasn’t under any pressure.
I didn’t make a bogey at all and it is very rare because you usually end up slipping after making birdies. I played really well, especially with the way I started. It is always tough to make birdies when you are trailing the leaders but I relaxed.
I’m over the moon. The last two months have been fantastic for me. I’m playing in The Open championship this year so I can’t ask for anything more. Whatever happened today was fantastic.
I had a few 10-under-pars before. I shot my first one in the Philippines two years ago to safe my Asian Tour card and I shot another one before winning the Joburg Open. I made a brilliant birdie on the nine. I pushed my tee shot to the right but I hit a brilliant second shot holed my birdie from about 15 feet.
On the 16th hole I saw the leaderboard and I had a two-shot lead so I told myself I needed one more birdie and I made a very nice birdie on 17. On 18, my ball was in the greenside bunker and the easiest up-and-down to make. I was just telling myself ‘don’t mess this up, don’t duff it or top it.’
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.
This is a very special golf course. I finished tied ninth here last year and it was my first Maybank Championship and best result in a co-sanctioned event. I kept my Asian Tour card here because of this result here. Obviously, I love the course. It wasn’t easy today because it was very windy but this course suits my eye.
Gavin (Green) is a great friend. We know each other for three years now. He is a great guy and he is obviously a Maybank Ambassador and the reigning Order of Merit champion. He is a great guy and a great player. We’ve been good friends and he will also be playing on the European Tour so I will have some good company.
More and more players are coming out of Asia and India. More Asian players are doing well. You’ve had players like Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Anirban Lahiri. Just seeing them do well inspire us. Especially me winning now will inspire some kids so we need more idols to inspire more people and give them the confidence that they can do it as well. Asian golf is in the right hands and it is doing very well. You will see more and more Asian players winning in Europe.
No, not at all. I never thought I would win today. In a way that’s good because I was four shots off the leaders. The best thing was that I wasn’t in the leader group. I didn’t go in with the mind-set to win but I went in with the mind-set to shoot a low round. That really helped me today. I had a good feeling I would play well and shoot a low number and that’s what I did.
My dad was in the army and we pretty much went all over the place in India. We were in many places. Dad used to be posted all around and we as a family followed him. I got into the game when I was seven. I turned professional when I was still in school. My dad is one of the biggest reasons that I could take this step. He has been a great inspiration. I’m 21 but this is my sixth season as a professional. I already feel like a veteran.
Both my wins now are very special. Joburg Open was obviously my first win and it was a different atmosphere because I was the only Indian there. It was very calm. I was more in the zone. The first wins are always special. I was leading going into the final round of the Joburg Open so I was expected to win. Today, I had no expectations. I didn’t even know I was going to win until the 16th leaderboard. Both wins are different but very special.
Jorge Campillo (Esp) – Final Round 68 (-4), Total 269 (-19)
I started really good. I started good in the first eight holes then I missed my drive on the ninth hole. After that I made some good up-and-downs and gave myself some birdie chance. I finished good so I’m happy with that.
I knew he had to shoot low but not that low. It was windy and it was quite tricky out there. It is tough to beat someone who shoots a 10-under. I kept trying and I’ve finished second way too many times.
I finish by myself so that’s quite positive. I’m very happy with that.
Khalin Joshi – Fourth Round 70 (-2), Total 272 (-16)
I kept myself together all week. I didn’t go as low as I could have today but there are so many positives from this week. Now I believe I can play better and I know that I can compete at this level. I showed that to everyone and I proved that to myself. It’s a good week for me. Going to rest this week and then I will start off in India again I’m not sure. I am going to meet my coach and spend some time working on a couple of things. Hopefully I can get a few more invites and looking forward to the next couple of events. Things have changed so much for me this past year, I was struggling to keep my card just last year and this week comes and I have secured my card already. It changes a lot mentally, now I play to win and not just to play and secure my card. I am so happy for Shubhankar, we were roommates this week and last night we were talking about being roommates on tour if I won. We are good friends and I learn a lot from him and it motivates me to work harder and be up there with him.
Scores after round 4 of the Maybank Championship being played at the par 72, 7135 Yards Saujana GCC course (am – denotes amateur):
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.
274 – Matthieu PAVON (FRA) 70-67-70-67, Joost LUITEN (NED) 72-68-66-68, Maximilian KIEFFER (GER) 69-66-71-68, Romain WATTEL (FRA) 67-73-65-69, Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 72-62-70-70, Paul PETERSON (USA) 69-70-65-70.
275 – Andy SULLIVAN (ENG) 71-66-71-67, David LIPSKY (USA) 67-68-71-69, Scott JAMIESON (SCO) 68-69-69-69, Benjamin HEBERT (FRA) 69-70-65-71, Mike LORENZO-VERA (FRA) 66-71-67-71, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-65-70-72.
276 – Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 68-67-72-69, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 72-66-70-68, Thomas DETRY (BEL) 68-68-69-71, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 70-67-67-72.