Indian Sharma revels in best birthday ever at British Open

Carnoustie (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


India's promising young golfer Shubhankar Sharma said making the cut at his first British Open was the best possible birthday present he could have wished for.

Sharma, who turned 22 on Saturday, carded a final round of two-over-par 73 to finish the tournament four-over, but he said his presence and that of several other golfers from the Asian Tour over the weekend at Carnoustie reflected an increasing influence in world golf.

Sharma is new to the majors this year and missed the cut at both the Masters and the US Open, but he said he hadn't really felt nervous this week apart from the second round when he was racing to get inside the cut.

"I'm really happy," he said.

"It's the best birthday present that I could have had. Really happy with whatever happened this week.

"I would say I felt the pressure on the second day, a little bit, when I was outside the cut line and really wanted to play the weekend.

"Because it was my birthday yesterday as well, so I didn't want to be sad on my birthday."

Sharma recorded his maiden victory on the European Tour in the Joburg Open late last year, earning his spot in the British Open in the process. And he said he had learnt a lot from his experience on the Scottish links to take forward.

"I haven't played too much links golf before this, and this is only my third time, and it's definitely very different compared to what we play normally, especially back home in Asia," said Sharma, who was almost prevented from taking part in that Joburg Open at all over visa problems.

"It's very, very different. So a lot of learning. I felt like I've just grown as a player this week, and can't wait to get back here next time and just draw on the experiences that I got this week."

Sharma will now take a small break before competing in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Akron at the beginning of next month, and then in the final major of the season at the US PGA Championship.

And he said the Asian Tour is producing a whole host of players who can hold their own on other tours and in the majors.

"It just shows that we have such a strong presence now on the world golfing scene," said Sharma, one of two Indians in the field at Carnoustie alongside Anirban Lahiri, who missed the cut.

"We've had so many players playing on the Asian Tour. We've had so many guys winning on the PGA Tour, even the guy who won last week, Michael Kim. Before that, Kevin Na, they both are Korean-Americans.

"We've had so many players play the British Open before. We (India) had two guys playing this week.

"On a whole, I think it's great for the Asian Tour, and just shows what we have back home in Asia."