(Photo by David Cannon)
By Joel Beall
Shubhankar Sharma failed to bring home the WGC-Mexico Championship following his breakout performance at Chapultepec. But the 21-year-old received something far better than a trophy.
Fred Ridley, the new chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, announced on Tuesday that Sharma has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2018 Masters.
“Golf is a global game, and throughout our history, we have extended invitations to deserving international players not otherwise qualified,” Ridley said in a statement. “As his results have proven, Shubhankar Sharma is a remarkable young player, and we look forward to welcoming him to Augusta National in April.”
A product of India, Sharma was an unknown as late as November, ranking outside the top 500 in the world. However, he raised his profile with wins at the European Tour’s Joburg Open in December and the Maybank Championship this February. In his first official PGA Tour event last weekend, he entered the final round of the WGC-Mexico in the lead. Although he ultimately stumbled on Sunday, it’s clear from his game and steady temperament that he’s a star in the making.
Sharma will become the fourth Indian player to compete in the Masters, following Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Anirban Lahiri. Ryo Ishikawa (2013) is the last player to receive a special Masters exemption.