Shubhankar Sharma stunned the golfing world on Sunday when he won the Maybank Championship, one of the three richest on the European Tour.
This not so much because the 21-year-old Indian young-gun is one of the little-known new faces in top-level golf, but more so because of the way in which he did it.
Ofter opening with a shakey 70 and a 69 in steamy-hot weather at Malaysia's Saujana G&CC in Kuala Lumpur, he barely made the cut, but with a new self-belief nurtured in part by his first European Tour victory in the Joburg Open two months back, he picked himself up, pulled up his socks and came storming back, first with a fighting 66 on Saturday and then with a closing-round 10-under 62 stunner that saw him reel in the front runners, race clear and eventually leave them for dead with his 21-under 267 total.
Sharma needed four shots to catch the joint overnight leaders, Jorge Campillo of Spain and South African Dylan Frittelli, when he teed off on Sunday and he quickly made his intentions clear by picking up four consecutive birdies, the last of these on the 7th with an icy 15ft putt.
Another birdie on the 9th hole was followed by a 6th at the 11th that took him to the front and after that, there was simply no stopping him.
Four more birdies, the final one with the proverbial 'up-and-down' from a greenside bunker at the par-5 18th hole, finally carried him to a two-shot victory over Campillo, who closed with a dogged 68.
A second Spaniard, Pablo Larrazabal, and New Zealand's Ryan Fox, son of former All Black flyhalf Grant Fox, both shot 66s to tie for 3rd, a further shot back on 270, while Frittelli closed with a disappointing 71 to slide back five shots off the pace into a five-man tie for 5th with Italy's Nino Bertasio (69), Japan's Ryo Ishikawa (69) and Hideto Tanihara (69) and India's Khalin Joshi (70).
Sharma, the World No 193 at the start of the week, took away a winners cheque of US$500,000 as well as the bonus capture of a ticket to play in the WGC Championship of Mexico later this year.
He had already booked a place to play in this year's Open Championship in July at the Joburg Open so it was no wonder that he was walking around with an unbroken smile after his victory.
"It was great. Really great," he told reporters afterwards.
"It's always tough to make more birdies when you're trailing the leaders, but I was calm and it was fantastic. I've had a few 10-under par rounds, the first one I shot was in Manila and then I shot 10-under again in Joburg to win, so that number is certainly lucky for me."
"I didn't start well today, but then I made the four birdies," he said.
"And on the back nine, I just kept playing well. It (his victory) is still sinking in. But I'm really happy with the way I played."
Lee Westwood, a former World and European Tour No 1 who shot a 62 on Friday, failed to maintain his momentum and finished in a tie for 11th.
And what happened to Henrik Stenson, the pre-tournament favourite and lowest handicap golfer in the event? This was clearly not one of his best weeks. He closed with a 70 to finish in joint 60th place with a 6-under 282.
LEADING FINAL-ROUND SCORES
267 Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 70 69 66 62
269 Jorge Campillo (ESP) 69 66 66 68
270 Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 70 70 64 66, Ryan Fox (NZL) 68 68 68 66
272 Nino Bertasio (ITA) 68 65 70 69, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 74 66 63 69, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 71 64 68 69, Khalin Joshi (IND) 67 70 65 70, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 69 66 66 71
273 Berry Henson (USA) 69 68 65 71
274 Matthieu Pavon (FRA) 70 67 70 67, Joost Luiten (NED) 72 68 66 68, Maximilian Kieffer (GER) 69 66 71 68, Romain Wattel (FRA) 67 73 65 69, Lee Westwood (ENG) 72 62 70 70, Paul Peterson (USA) 69 70 65 70.
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