Melbourne: Anirban Lahiri, who ended his season in the second leg of the FedExCup playoffs, has been chosen as the playing partner by Shubhankar Sharma for the 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf.
Sharma, who qualified as one of the top 28 eligible players, had the right as the leading player to select his playing partner. Ranked 107, he chose the experienced Lahiri, ranked three places below him.
It has been a great last few days for Sharma, who first qualified for his maiden World Cup and was then recommended for the Arjuna Award. He is also leading the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings and if he tops that, he will become the youngest Indian to become Asia No 1 and follow the footsteps of Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and Anirban Lahiri, who have won the top Asian honours in the past.
It will also be a great chance for both Sharma and Lahiri who will also be hoping to make the Internationals Team for the 2019 Presidents Cup at the same venue.
It will be Sharma’s first World Cup appearance, while Lahiri plays for the second time, the first time was in 2013 with Gaganjeet Bhullar. Lahiri was T-25 individually in 2013.
While Lahiri has been on the PGA Tour since 2015 and made two Presidents Cup teams, the 22-year-old Sharma, a two-time European Tour winner, won the 2017 Joburg Open and 2018 Maybank Championship.
A veteran of Olympic Games, two Presidents Cup, and three EurAsia Cups, he said, “I’m very excited to be pairing up with Shubhankar. He’s a special talent and a dear friend so obviously it’s going to be a lot of fun. We both have the capability to bring back the trophy if we can play to our abilities. It is special and a great honour to play in India honours.”
Sharma said, “The last few days have been special. First came the selection to the World Cup, then the Arjuna Award and now I have the opportunity to play alongside Anirban, who I have always looked up to. He is a great friend and I have learnt a lot from him.”
“It means a great deal to me. The game is growing in India and to be a part of that, means a lot," he added.
India first competed in the World Cup in 1969, with Shadi Lal and Ryda Valjii on the team and the best from an Indian duo came in 2005 when Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa finished ninth.
The 28 two-man teams for the World Cup are now official, with each country’s leading player having selected his partner for the unique team format. England’s Ian Poulter was among the notables selected and will make his sixth appearance in the World Cup competition after being tabbed by fellow countryman Tyrrell Hatton.
The 2018 ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf will be contested at The Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne from 21-25 November, 2018. The 59th staging of the event will see the 56-player field vie for the largest prize money purse in Australian golf, with $US7 million on offer.
The 72-hole stroke play team format will feature Four-ball (best ball) play in the first and third rounds and Foursomes (alternate shot) play in the second and final rounds.
In 2016, Danes Søren Kjeldsen and Thorbjørn Olesen shot a final-round 66 in foursomes at Kingston Heath to win Denmark’s first World Cup of Golf title by four strokes over the United States, China and France.
“Fans in Australia can expect a thrilling and unique competition as we watch Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith look to reclaim the title on their home soil against Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Branden Grace and many of the world’s top players,” said Executive Director Robyn Cooper.
“But it’s just as exciting to see countries represented where golf is still growing in popularity. To have the top-ranked players competing from countries like Malaysia, Mexico and India show just how committed those players are to growing the game in their respective nations, and they have a great opportunity to do so on a global stage at the World Cup," he said.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Sep 21, 2018 19:20:56 IST