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Golf: Shubhankar, Gaganjeet hope to be each other's support in Paris Olympics debut

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, May 3 (PTI) Olympic debuts can be intimidating but then, what are friends for if not to ease the nerves and spur each other? It's something that Indian golfers Shubhankar Sharma and Gaganjeet Bhullar are banking on as they gear up for the Paris Games.

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Sharma and Bhullar are ranked 47 and 52 respectively in the international golf rankings as of April 29 and are expected to be among 60 professionals who will tee off on August 1 at the Le Golf National.

The Chandigarh-based professionals are part of the sports ministry's Target Olympic Podium scheme.

"TOPS is great initiative by government and supports deserving sportspersons who represent the nation at the highest level. Few will know that golf is different in many aspects especially as far as expenses are concerned," the 27-year-old Sharma, who is currently competing in Volvo China Open in Beijing, was quoted as saying by the Sports Authority of India in a press release.

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"I will draw on my experience to meet the expectations of the nation in Olympics. Needless to say, I will put my best foot forward," he said.

The financial assistance extended to Sharma under TOPS will cover the cost of competing in nine DP World Tour events apart from two Major championships -- the US Open and the British Open -- besides coach fee, engaging physiotherapist and dietician services, airfare, board and lodging and out-of-pocket allowance.

Talking about his preparation, Sharma said he has been following a schedule for the Olympics.

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"I am happy with myself and where I stand today. It's work in the right direction. More than the challenges now, it's just about getting that week right. I am very positive," he said.

Sharma has immense respect for Bhullar, his senior on the professional circuit.

"Gagan is a proven champion and I look up to him with a lot of regard and respect. He has a wonderful mind-set about winning. I am sure we both should be able to spur each other to bring glory to the nation in Paris," Sharma said.

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The 36-year-old Bhullar, 11-time Asian Tour champion and 2006 Asian Games silver medal winner, said he is hungry to do well in Paris.

"It is a proud moment for me to be included in TOPS. Though I have been supported by sponsors in the last few years, there are many elements which are left. I would like to strengthen my team with a psychologist, caddie and fitness coach," he said.

"Shubhankar is much younger than I am but I have played a few rounds with him in tournaments. Both of us are excited as this is our first Olympics.

"Golf is such a sport that anything can happen, a few good rounds, a few good shots can definitely go a long way in deciding the result," he added. PTI PM PM AH AH

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