India’s number one player Shubhankar Sharma tightened his grip atop the Habitat for Humanity Standings, courtesy of another impressive performance in Malaysia at the CIMB Classic on Sunday.
With half of his earnings counting towards the Habitat for Humanity Standings at the Asian Tour and PGA Tour-sanctioned event, Sharma took home a handsome US$175,000 in prize money and extended his lead to US$134,094 over Korea’s Sanghyun Park.
The 22-year-old Sharma held the overnight joint-lead heading into the final round, however a shaky start followed by a series of bad shots starting on the 11th hole, put paid to his hopes of becoming the second Indian after Arjun Atwal to win on the PGA Tour.
This marked his second top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, since finishing tied-ninth at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, where he first made heads turn on the world stage.
“I am disappointed but I think it’s good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour if you look at it that way. This will push me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour and I have given myself two opportunities now,” said Sharma, who was quick to take positives from his tied-10th finish at the CIMB Classic.
“Shubhankar's a great lad. I am sure he learned a lot from these past two days and that's what it's all about.” – Marc Leishman
The Indian star who has found himself in the upper echelons of the game since winning the tri-sanctioned Joburg Open, followed by the Maybank Championship two months later, is edging closer to his goal of taking his place among the elite list of Asian Tour number ones.
“I knew 50 percent of the money will be counted towards the Habitat for Humanity Standings this week, so I was aiming for at least a top-five finish that would have given me a decent enough lead for the rest of the season. But I am still happy to have extended my lead,” said Sharma, who continues to take the driver’s seat on the money ranks with a season’s haul of US$695,994.
The reigning CIMB Classic champion and now a four-time PGA Tour winner Marc Leishman, hailed Sharma as an emerging star to look out for after playing two rounds with him.
“Shubhankar's a great lad. I am sure he learned a lot from these past two days and that's what it's all about. Sometimes you learn more from the tournaments that you don't win. I think this is one of the wins where I did learn a lot and that's not always the case. I'm sure he'll learn and he's going to go on to big things,” Leishman said.
The top-three spots on the money list remain unchanged with Korea’s Sanghyun Park and England’s Matt Wallace placed second and third with earnings of US$561,898 and US$446,660 respectively.
American duo John Catlin and Sihwan Kim as well as India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar were the only three inside the top-10 to move up a spot following the conclusion of the CIMB Classic.
Next week, the Asian Tour heads to India for the Panasonic Open India as well as China for the WGC-HSBC Championships where Park, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, Bhullar and Justin Harding of South Africa will compete in the star-studded field.