Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma could not pull off a dream win owing to a late slump but he rose in stature with a creditable tied-ninth finish at the WGC - Mexico Championship. The 21-year-old Sharma was tied with two-time Masters champion, Bubba Watson (67) and Canadian Adam Hadwin (66). Phil Mickelson won on the first play-off hole against a rampant Justin Thomas (64), while Rafa Cabrera-Bello (67), shared third with Tyrrell Hatton (67), who bogeyed the last to miss getting into the play-off.
After a dream run through first three rounds of 65-66-69, Sharma fell with a stuttering 74 on a final day when the Golfing Gods just did not look his way. After being 14-under at one stage on third day, he finished with a total of 10-under and in tied-9th place.
Disappointing it may seem, but it was India’s second best ever, next only to the seasoned Jeev Milkha Singh’s T-4 back in 2009. It was the same event but then it had a different sponsor and was on a different golf course, Doral.
But the winner then and this Sunday was the same - Mickelson. Talking of curious co-incidences, in 2009, Mickelson shared the first round lead with Jeev in 2009. On Sunday Sharma led Mickelson into the final group by two shots after enduring a few embarrassing minutes before start of the third day when Mickelson failed to recognise the newcomer and mistook him for a mediaman. Mickelson apologised soon after and then wished the lad all the best.
Sharma had done well on the third day to keep the lead but on the fourth he was reduced to being a spectator as Mickelson conjured up shots from troubled zones as only he can and worked his magic around the greens to finish the weekend with 65-66 and get into a play-off with another modern-day magician Justin Thomas.
“I am a little bit disappointed, I was leading and I think I couldn’t finish it off today. But that’s what the game is about. And what I learned, especially playing with Phil, I’ll cherish forever,” said Sharma.