Gritty Shubhankar Qualifies For US Open

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Columbus in US(PTI): Shubhankar Sharma’s magnificent year continued as the Indian grabbed a spot in next week’s US Open Golf Championships with a solid display of 69-68 in the qualifiers here.

The prestigious tournament will be held at the the Shinnecock Hills.

In the qualifiers held at Brookside GCC and Lakes Golf and Country Club, the 21-year-old was tied fifth.

Two other Indians — Shiv Kapur — playing the qualifier at Walton Heath, Surrey — Arjun Atwal — playing in Tennessee — failed to earn a spot.

A thrilled Sharma said, “It was a great day for me. It was a long one with 36 holes but I am glad I played the Brookside in the morning as it is tougher with smaller greens. I grinded it out for a 69.”

He added, “But it was nervy ending on the 18th (in second round). I hit to the left off the tee and it took a bad bounce and it went into the rough. I had a terrible lie and I had to hit with one foot in the bunker with 150 yards to the front of the green.

“I hit a 9-Iron, which stayed short and again in the rough, thick lie. But I made a great up and down. I hit a good chip to 10 feet and holed it for par. At that stage I did not know the scores and felt that I needed to make par to have any chance.”

Sharma has already played the Masters this year on a special invite and has now qualified for the US Open.

Earlier he earned a spot into the Open Championships at Carnoustie after winning the Joburg Open. He needs to stay in Top-100 of the world to play the last Major, the PGA Championships.

Shrugging aside the disappointment of missing the cut at the Memorial, Sharma shot 3-under 69 with six birdies and three bogeys in the first round.

In the second round he was all aggression as he eagled the Par-5 third and added birdies on fifth and seventh and turned in 4-under for the round and 7-under for the qualifiers.

A double bogey on Par-3 11th threatened his campaign before he showed great determination to hole back-to-back birdies on 15th and 16th and hold on to pars on last two holes.

Korea’s Sungjae Im (67-68) shared the top spot with Shane Lowry (68-67). Keegan Bradley (66-70) and Brian Gay (68-68) were Tied-3rd, while Sharma was Tied-5th with Russell Knox, Michael Putnam and two others.

Adam Scott parred his last four holes after bogeying 11th and 14th to find himself in a five-way tie for 10th place, which enabled him to squeeze in for his 67th successive Major appearance.

Scott has played every Major since the 2001 British Open. His streak is second only to Sergio Garcia’s sequence of 75 appearances.

Kapur, who has qualified in the past from Surrey, shot 74 in the first round and then withdrew. Andrew Johnston won the honours and the qualifiers also included Hero Indian Open winner, Matt Wallace, who finished ahead of Shubhankar at the Indian event. Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood failed to qualify from this venue.

Arjun Atwal missed qualifying from Tennessee as he shot 72-71. Sam Burns, Steve Stricker and Aaron Wise were among the 11 players making the US Open from there.

Of the 12 Sectional qualifiers, 11 were held on Monday. The qualifier in Japan was held last month with three players going through while 14 went in from Walton Heath. The 11 qualifiers in the US had about 50 spots available.

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